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Storm left some happy, some not

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

More than a foot of mountain snow from the weekend storm made for abundant winter fun Monday near Haviland Lake.

By Dale Rodebaugh Herald staff writer

As the storm that blew into town Saturday started to move out of the area Monday, weather watchers reported a bounty of precipitation.

Briggen Wrinkle, who reports readings from Durango to the Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service, said Monday she measured 8 inches of snow, the equivalent of 0.63 inches of water, throughout three days.

Wrinkle had 2 inches of snow (0.18 inches of precipitation) Saturday morning; 4 inches of snow (0.22 precipitation) Sunday and 2 inches of snow (0.23 precipitation) Monday.

Pam Snider, who lives in Hesperus at 8,000 feet elevation, recorded 19 inches of snow – 0.97 inches of water – throughout the three days.

In the Rafter J subdivision, Bill Butler found a total of 13.5 inches of snow – 0.94 inches of precipitation – through three days.

Not everyone was thrilled.

The moisture is welcome, but it hasn’t made a dent in the amount farmers and ranchers need, southwest La Plata County sheepman Jim Dyer said.

“We get a little water from a ditch off the La Plata River, but it’s not enough to irrigate all our pasture,” Dyer said. “So we need rain and snow on the ground.

“The last couple of storms haven’t wet the ground deeply,” Dyer said. “You need moisture down a few feet.”

Recent precipitation hasn’t erased the deficit from previous years, Dyer said. He characterized the siege of drought as “dismal.”

But Dyer doesn’t want to write off the irrigation season.

“I check the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) Snotel site in Columbus Basin every morning because it feeds the La Plata River,” Dyer said. “It’s encouraging.”

The Columbus Basin at almost 11,000 feet elevation had 60 inches of snow and the equivalent of 13.3 inches of water Monday morning. On Feb. 5, the snow depth was 49 inches or 12.2 inches of water.

The Mancos Snotel site held 60 inches of snow Monday, up from 38 inches six days earlier. The Snotel site at Cascade had 40 inches of snow, compared to 31 inches on Feb. 5.

Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort said its season-to-date snowfall stands at 161 inches, 26 more than at the same time last year.

The resort received 9 inches after lifts closed Sunday and 8 more inches Monday morning, the statement said.

The snowpack in the Animas, Dolores, San Miguel and San Juan river drainages in January was 84 percent of the amount registered at the same time last year and 70 percent of the basin average for the month.

John Kyle, a forecaster at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction said higher elevations, 8,000 to 10,000, received 15 to 30 inches of snow from the storm.

The weather service forecast said the departing storm could leave up to 4 inches of snow, mainly before 1 a.m. this morning. A winter storm warning was in effect until midnight.

Temperatures will be brisk. Today’s high will be around 31 and the low tonight a minus 1. Highs Wednesday through Sunday will range from 34 to 39, and lows will be 2 to 11 degrees.

daler@durangoherald.com

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