Snowpack close to normal levels |

Snowpack close to normal levels

Winter storms that dumped bushels of white stuff on area ski slopes is inching snowpack levels to normal averages in the area.

As of Thursday, snowpack was a little below average for the Roaring Fork River Basin, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service snow survey Web site.

Snow survey readings showed the Roaring Fork River Basin, with snow survey sites from Independence Pass to Nast Lake on the Fryingpan River and the east side of McClure Pass, was 96 percent of last year’s snow levels and 96 percent of the long-term average. Last year at this time, the Roaring Fork snowpack was 100 percent of the long-term average.

Snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin, which includes recording sites from Grand Lake to McCoy, was 89 percent of average on Jan. 20 and 107 percent of last year’s snowpack.

The Gunnison River Basin has above-average snowpack, with current readings of 115 percent of last year’s levels and 120 percent of the long-term average. Snow-survey sites in that basin range from Schofield Pass to the west side of McClure Pass. The Yampa and White river basins are below average, with 78 and 84 percent of last year and 87 and 92 percent of average, respectively. The White River Basin includes snow survey locations on the Flat Tops at Bison and Trappers lakes. At this time last year, show survey data showed the White River to be 109 percent of the long-term average.

Despite the snow and rain our area has had over the last few weeks, “we’re not that much above a normal situation,” said Dennis Davidson, district conservationist for NRCS in Glenwood Springs.

Current snowpack percentages are the highest across southern Colorado.

Typically, Colorado receives 40 percent of its snow accumulation by Jan. 1, the NRCS Web site said. Maximum accumulation is reached by April 1.

“This leaves only three months in which the state can reach a badly needed above-average snowpack which would help to continue drought recovery. At this time, it appears that southern Colorado has the best chance to see above-average snowpack totals by this spring,” the report said. The springlike rainfall of a couple of weeks ago have markedly improved soil moisture levels and that will help increase runoff in the spring, the report said.

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