Climate: Colorado snowpack tracking near average

Above-average precipitation in October and November give state a headstart to the runoff season

Colorado snowpack is tracking very near average for the winter so far.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The snowpack in nearly every river basin in Colorado is at or above normal, federal watchers said this week.

This year’s January 1 snowpack readings are at 103 percent of median statewide, according to Phyllis Ann Philipps, State Conservationist with the NRCS.

“This is a great start to the 2014 water year. As we saw in 2012 and 2013, early seasons deficits are difficult to make up later in the season … so being right where we should be this time of year gives us a head start compared to the past couple of years,” Philipps said.

Snow accumulation in the mountains was above normal during October, November and early December but dried up a little bit in late December, especially in the south and southwest portions of the state.

The moisture has been evenly spread across the state’s mountains, with snowpack readings ranging from 111 percent of median in the Yampa, White and North Platte basins to 99 percent of median in both the Rio Grande and South Platte basins.

The January 1 snowpack totals have led to decent early streamflow forecasts for the spring and summer season. Streamflows in the Colorado, South Platte, Yampa, White, and Arkansas River basins are currently expected to be in the 90 to 100 percent of normal range. In the Rio Grande, Gunnison and San Juan basins forecasts as of January 1 are in the 80 to 100 percent of normal range.

Reservoir storage in some of the major basins benefited from the large precipitation events this past fall. Statewide storage is currently at 87 percent of average, with the Colorado, South Platte, and Yampa/White basins all holding water at near to above normal totals. Storage in the other major basins remains below normal but is above where it was last year at this same time.

All in all, these early season conditions are favorable leading into the bulk of the snow accumulation season. If weather patterns persist and continue to provide moisture to our state this could be a good year for water supply and recreation in Colorado.


Current Snowpack
% of Average


Current Snowpack
% of Last Year


Reservoir Storage
% of Average


Last Year’s

Reservoir Storage
% of Average

Gunnison 107 155 80 68
Colorado 102 141 98 69
South Platte 99 144 105 77
Yampa, White, & North Platte 111 132 118 100
Arkansas 106 190 67 56
Rio Grande 99 152 64 50
San Miguel, Dolores, Animas & San Juan 100 146 69 66
Statewide 103 146 87 67

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