Local watershed snowpack level dips below 90 percent | PostIndependent.com

Local watershed snowpack level dips below 90 percent

Persistent dry weather through January has shrunk the Roaring Fork watershed snowpack to 89 percent of normal, while the Upper Colorado River Basin is still holding at 95 percent, according to the Roaring Fork Conservancy’s weekly snowpack report issued Thursday.

This part of the state is still doing better than the southwestern basins, where the snowpack is hovering around 60 percent of normal based on the 1981-2010 median.

“We are hoping and praying for new snow to ensure healthy river flows this coming summer,” the weekly watershed report states.

Ski resorts are also getting antsy with the lingering dry spell. Although base depths at most area resorts including Aspen and Sunlight have held up with moderate temperatures and the low seasonal sun angle, warm daytime temperatures and a lack of new snow could start to take their toll if the pattern continues into February.

Things could begin to change this weekend, however, as the forecast is calling for snow moving into the southern and central Rocky Mountains today and tomorrow.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for a 60 percent chance of rain or snow at lower elevations in the Roaring Fork Valley Friday night and Saturday.

The chance for snow increases at higher elevations where daytime temperatures are also expected to remain below freezing in advance of cooler temperatures next week, according to the NWS forecast for the area.

As it stands, Colorado’s mountain snowpack ranges from a low of 61 percent of normal in the Upper Rio Grande Basin to 96 percent of normal in the Front Range’s South Platte Basin, according to statewide statistics included with the Conservancy’s weekly report.

Within the Roaring Fork River watershed, the snowpack remains above normal at the headwaters on Independence Pass at 108 percent. But the Crystal River drainage is just 75 percent of normal, while the snowpack on McClure Pass was holding at 82 percent.

Due to warmer temperatures in recent days, local stream flows are also higher than average this week, according to the report.

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