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Winter storms give Colorado a big boost in snowpack totals

This week's winter storm could be Denver's largest January snowstorm in at least 30 years, boosting the state's snowpack totals.

DENVER — January is not normally a stellar month for high snow accumulations in Denver. That makes Wednesday's storm a pretty big deal, according to assistant state climatologist Becky Bolinger.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for the Denver metro area from 5 p.m. Tuesday to 5 p.m. Wednesday, with at least 6-12 inches of snow expected. The area that will get hit the most is east of the Interstate 25 corridor. 

"Following a good monsoon season late last summer, consistent activity in the fall and through the winter, we are seeing a lot of drought improvement," Bolinger said. 

The state is 40% drought-free, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This time last year, every part of Colorado experienced some form of drought. 

While most parts of the state are doing pretty well this year, Bolinger said some parts of southeast Colorado are seeing the worst drought right now. 

"That is where we are seeing drought conditions continuing and may even worsen soon," Bolinger said. "Thankfully the drought that was very bad in northeast Colorado is getting a lot of these events, so we should see drought improvement there."

Bolinger said more storms through the state allow Colorado to hold onto its snowpack longer. It can help recharge soils, streams and reservoirs. If the snow activity continues, she is confident Colorado can see some recovery in its reservoirs. 

She thinks it will take much more to help states downstream. 

"Particularly if you are going west and talking the Colorado River Basin, Lake Powell, Lake Mead – those ones are going to need 10 years like this for that recovery to occur," she said.




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