S.W. Colorado snowpack on target

State as a whole a bit better off than last year

Silver Mountain in the La Plata Mountains, seen Wednesday, contributes to a snowpack that was right at 100 percent of normal as of Jan. 1. However, lower summits such as Perins Peak, in the foreground, have lost almost all their early snow. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Silver Mountain in the La Plata Mountains, seen Wednesday, contributes to a snowpack that was right at 100 percent of normal as of Jan. 1. However, lower summits such as Perins Peak, in the foreground, have lost almost all their early snow.

The snowpack on Jan. 1 in Southwest Colorado – in the Animas, Dolores, San Juan and San Miguel drainages – was right on the money.

It was 100 percent of average for the date. Compared with last year it was well above, registering at 146 percent of the Jan. 1, 2013, level.

In fact, the snowpack in the state’s other six basins clustered around the 100 percent mark, ranging from 99 percent to 111 percent of average.

The overall state snowpack on Jan. 1 was 103 percent of average. It was almost half again the amount of snow on the ground on Jan. 1, 2013.

Although the numbers are encouraging, state and federal water officials say, they won’t hold up without more moisture, which has been in short supply for the last month. The extended outlook for more snow isn’t encouraging.

There is a chance of snow today at higher elevations and again Saturday night, Ellen Heffernan, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Grand Junction, said Wednesday.

“The general trend is for it to stay dry,” Heffernan said. “There is not much on the horizon.”

High temperatures through Tuesday will be in the high 30s and low 40s, with lows from 10 to 15 degrees.

Early snow across the state got Colorado off to its best winter since 2011, the Natural Resources Conservation Service said in a news release this week.

Snow accumulation in the mountains was above normal in October, November and early December, the service’s release said.

“This beneficial moisture dried up a bit during the second half of December, especially in the south and southwest portions of the state,” the release said.

As was evident in 2012 and 2013, early-season snow deficits are difficult to make up, the service said. So being at the average mark is encouraging.

The Yampa, White and North Platte basin was at 111 percent of average as of Jan. 1. The Rio Grande and South Platte basins registered 99 percent.

Current snowpack levels presage “decent” stream flows in the spring and summer, the service said.

Reservoir storage in the seven drainages is much better than last year. Overall, reservoir storage stands at 87 percent of average, compared with 67 percent on Jan. 1, 2013.

Reservoir storage in the Animas, Dolores, San Juan and San Miguel drainages on Jan. 1 was 69 percent, compared with 66 percent on the same date last year. Statewide, storage this year ranged from 64 to 118 percent of average, the highest being in the Yampa, White and North Platte basins.

daler@durangoherald.com

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