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Colorado: March 1 survey shows healthy snowpack

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Big parts of the West are experiencing a moisture deficit this winter, with drought continuing in California.

Northwest flow favors Colorado’s northern mountains

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — For the third month in a row, Colorado snowpack is tracking above average. February, ended with the snowpack at 116 percent of median, with snowfall to-date for the water year (starting Oct. 1) at 133 percent of average.

A series of wet storm cycles pummeled the mountains during the month, with the bullseye over the north-central region, where some stations reported nearly double the average monthly snowfall. The no-Niño weather pattern has left a moisture deficit in the southwest part of the state, where the Upper Rio Grande and the combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins, are still experiencing below normal snow conditions for this time of year. Continue reading

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Climate: A tale of two winters

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Colorado stands out as one of the few western states with above average precipitation during January 2014.

January 2014 cool and dry across the U.S.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The monthly summary from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center tells a tale of two winters across the United States, with cold conditions and big snows in the eastern half of the country and record drought and warmth in parts of the West.

Overall, the nationally averaged temperature across the contiguous 48 states was 30.3 degrees Fahrenheit, 0.1 degrees below the 20th century average, making it the coldest January since 2011, according to the state of the climate report for January 2014. Continue reading

Climate: Storms bolster Colorado snowpack

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Colorado’s snowpack is above average as of Feb. 1.

Feb. 1 snow survey results suggest decent spring runoff for most of the state

By Summit  Voice

FRISCO — Colorado’s snowpack surged to above average in late January thanks to a strong storm that brought snow statewide, federal water experts said last week. The Feb. 1 snow survey showed the average snowpack across the Colorado mountains at 107 percent of average, and 152 percent above last year’s Feb. 1 reading.

As of Feb. 1, only the Upper Rio Grande (82 percent) and San Juan (79 percent) basins in the southern part of the state were below average, according to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Continue reading

Near-record January snow in Breckenridge

Pre-dawn, post snowstorm glow on Buffalo Mountain, above Silverthorne, Colorado.

Pre-dawn, post snowstorm glow on Buffalo Mountain, above Silverthorne, Colorado.

Blue River Basin snowpack well above average for the season

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The Blue River Basin snowpack is in good shape at midwinter, with above average snowfall during all four months of the 2014 water year, which started Oct. 1, 2013.

Last month really helped bolster the totals, as Breckenridge weather-watcher Rick Bly reported the third-snowiest January on record, dating back to the late 1800s. Bly tallied 60.5 inches at his weather station, where he tracks precipitation for the National Weather Service. According to Bly, only January 1899 (80.4 inches) and 1996 (71.8 inches) were snowier. Continue reading

Climate: U.S. temps cooler than average in 2013

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Cooler than average temperatures were widespread across the U.S. in December 2013.

California drought intensifies

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — December 2013 won’t go down in the record books for cold temperatures even though cooler-than-average readings prevailed across much of the country.

The average temperature across the lower 48 states was 2 degrees Fahrenheit below the 20th century average, making it the coldest December since 2009, according to the monthly summary released this week by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. Continue reading

Summit County snowfall near average through December

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January snowfall in Summit County, Colorado.

2013 ended up as 2d-wettest on record for Dillon weather station

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A quarter of the way through the 2014 water year (which started Oct. 1, 2013), snowfall and precipitation in Summit County are just about average, according to data from the two official National Weather Service observation sites.

In Breckenridge, long-time weather watcher Rick Bly measured 27.3 inches of snow in December, just a bit more than the long-term average of 22.4 inches. But the water equivalent in that snow was just 1.43 inches, slightly below the average 1.51 inches, Bly said. Continue reading

Sen. Udall helps secure funding for snow surveys

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NRCS snow surveys help water managers plan ahead.

Temporary budget fix ensures program through August 2014

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — For decades, hydrologists have been tromping through the high country of Colorado and around the West to make detailed snowpack measurements. Together with data from automated SNOTEL sites and other tools, the monthly snow-course readings help water managers develop accurate projections of spring stream flows, and  how much water will be available for irrigation and storage.

The information is critical in arid regions, which rely on the winter snowpack as the ultimate reservoir. Federal budget cuts have threatened the program, raising concern among western resource managers, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week that it has found a way to maintain funding for the Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting Program — at least through the end of Aug. 2014. Continue reading

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