What the latest storm means for Colorado snowpack

ur recent winter storm in Colorado put the state back on track when it comes to snowpack levels in the mountains. 9NEWS at 6 p.m. 02/03/16.

KUSA – Our recent winter storm in Colorado put the state back on track when it comes to snowpack levels in the mountains. The snow -- which was measured in inches in the metro area, but in feet in the mountains -- means Colorado's snowpack rebounded after a slow January.

"Statewide, it was a huge factor," said Brian Domonkos, Colorado Snow Survey Supervisor with the USDA/NRCS. "Without the storm, snow totals and precipitation totals for January were going to be in about the 70 percent of normal range."

Now, though, statewide snowpack is up to about 118 percent of what it would normally be at this time of the year. What does that mean? For now, you can expect good skiing, and later on in the year, it could be good news for Colorado's drinking water supply.

"The snowpack is pretty high," Domonkos said. "So, reservoir levels could be drawn down easily in anticipation of that high snowmelt runoff."

What happens in January and February, though, isn't always an indicator of what might happen from March until May. Still, the influence of El Nino out in the Pacific, usually means there is the potential for more snow in Colorado. In the mountains, snowpack season is longer than the traditional winter start of Dec. 21. Snowpack season starts in October and runs through April, when the snow begins to melt.

"We're, at this point, about two-thirds of the way through the typical snowpack accumulation season," Domonkos said.

Historically, February is one of the winter months which sees that lowest snowpack accumulation, before it picks up again in March and April. That means, from here on out, every flake of snowfall counts.

(© 2016 KUSA)

 


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