State lags in snowpack despite up to 40 inches of snow in 2 days

Associated Press
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

DENVER (AP) ” The state’s snowpack remains considerably behind average despite a snow storm that delivered up to 40 inches of desperately needed snow in one mountain area before moving out of the state Sunday.

It created dangerous conditions in the high country and on lakes at lower elevations.

In Commerce City in suburban Denver, 19-year-old Laura Mae Wallace of Thornton died after falling through ice in a lake on a golf course with her two dogs, police said. A passing couple, officers and firefighters were unable to reach her, and she went underwater, police said. Dive teams reached Wallace about an hour later, roughly 30 feet from shore in water 20 feet deep. She died at a hospital.

A man was buried in an avalanche in northern Colorado, but his friends were able to dig him out within 10 minutes and perform CPR, said Eloise Campanella of the Larimer County sheriff’s department. Emergency responders reported he was breathing when he was flown to a hospital, she said.

The snow was a great relief for ski areas after a warm and dry fall that forced some major areas to delay their openings, and also was good news for municipal water suppliers.

The National Weather Service cautions that it is too early to start celebrating. Farmers on the plains didn’t get much snow, which they need to cover their winter crops.

Overall, the state remains way behind average in many areas. Wolf Creek ski resort got 36 inches in the past two days, but the area remains 99 inches behind average. The National Weather Service said a snow-reporting site near Wolf Creek picked up 40 inches.

The federal snowpack report Sunday said river basins in Colorado ranged from a high of 92 percent of the 30-year average in the San Miguel-Dolores-Animas-San Juan basin to 59 percent in the Yampa-White River basin. The South Platte basin, a major supplier of water to the Front Range, was 68 percent.

Denver Water, the biggest supplier in the state, reported its reservoirs were 85 percent full in late November.

Climatologist Klaus Wolter of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in an experimental forecast, has predicted a dry winter possibly followed by drought conditions. The Weather Service is predicting average precipitation for the period from Dec. 7-11, followed by below-average from Dec. 8-14.

Avalanches were possible in some areas, but blizzard and snow warnings were canceled Sunday.

With the major holiday season coming up ski resorts were happy to get what they did. Silverton reported getting 36 inches in the past two days. Silverton Mountain had hoped to open for the season Sunday but postponed it a day due to the heavy snow and fears that a tree may have fallen on a lift.

Vail was able to more than triple its terrain and now has 15 lifts open.

Purgatory was able to open Sunday after getting 20 inches in the past two days. It was charging only $15 for lift tickets and giving the money to charity.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.