Snow picture improving
Snow that began overnight Thursday and continued through Tuesday has significantly improved Colorado’s snowpack outlook.
Last week at this time, water watchers were looking at the skies trying to determine where this year’s supply would come from. Snowpack charts appeared to be flatlining for a third consecutive year.
This week, state snowpack totals in most of the state’s basins improved to above average — an encouraging sign that may not mean much if March and April fail to produce.
The Arkansas River basin is at 114 percent of median, while the Upper Colorado River basin, which provides supplemental water for the Arkansas Valley, is at 121 percent. The Rio Grande basin remains the driest in the state with just 82 percent of average.
Snow data from the Natural Resource Conservation Service Snotel sites shows a foot or more of moisture in the snowpack of many of its sites at higher elevations in both the Arkansas and Colorado basins.
Snow totals since Friday range from 3-9 inches in Pueblo County to about 2 feet in Lake County near Leadville, according to Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network weather spotters.
Tuesday’s snow even left 2-4 inches east of Pueblo in Otero and Prowers counties.
Ski areas report higher accumulations since the weekend, with 16 inches added to a 100-inch base at Wolf Creek; 6 inches, 82-inch base at Monarch; and 2 inches, 72-inch base at Ski Cooper.
That should translate into more water supply, at least in the short-term. At the end of January, winter water storage was almost 70,000 acre-feet, just 85 percent of average. However, it was 50 percent better than at the same time last year.