Colorado snowpack only 71 percent of the 30-year average |

Colorado snowpack only 71 percent of the 30-year average

Staff reportGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
In this photo provided by Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., local Nelson Carmichael makes his way down the bumps at the Steamboat Ski Resort, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Steamboat Springs received some much anticipated snow with 7 inches of new powder. (AP Photo/Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., Larry Pierce)
AP | Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.

Colorado’s snowpack is 71 percent of average and only about half of what it was last winter at this time, the Natural Resources Conservation Service said Monday.”This is the fourth-lowest Jan. 1 snowpack measured on the last 30 years and the lowest since Jan. 1, 2002, when the snowpack was at 65 percent of average,” the conservation service, the federal agency that conducts the Colorado Snow Survey, said in a statement.The agency measures precipitation at seven automated SnoTel sites in the Roaring Fork River basin. The closest site is about 12 miles east, southeast of Aspen at an elevation of 10,600. The snowpack was only 44 percent of average at that site Monday.The three sites in the Fryingpan River Valley ranged from 50 to 61 percent of average. Three sites in the Crystal River Valley ranged from 49 to 64 percent of average.The snowpack in the Roaring Fork Basin overall is 54 percent of the 30-year average established between 1971 and 2000, the conservation service reported.The “water year” started well in October with near-average snowfall and above-average precipitation. Drier conditions in November and December wiped out the good early start. Snow accumulations have been best in south-central Colorado and the eastern side of the Continental Divide, the conservation service said. The Arkansas and Upper Rio Grande basins in the south-central part of the state have the highest snowpacks in the state, at 96 and 92 percent, respectively.The snowpack is lowest in the Yampa and White River basins in the northwest part of Colorado, at just 57 percent of average.Sunny skies and high temperatures are forecast for Colorado’s mountains for the rest of this week with the exception of Wednesday, when there is a 20 percent chance of snow.

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