With multiple snow storms already rolling through the mountains the past few weeks, the snowpack has already built up above average for where it would normally be this time of year, for many places in our state.
Joseph Burtard from Ute Water Conservancy District says, “the district depends on two sites on the grand mesa that we monitor the snow. being park reservoir and mesa lakes SNOTEL sites, and at this point Mesa Lakes is at 125% of a ten year average and Park Reservoir being at 115% of a ten year average, so we’re off the a great start.”
The exception is southwestern Colorado, where much of the snowpack is below where it should be this time of year.
With the great start to the snow pack this season, we have to remember how bad last season was, and what needs to happen to make up for the lack of water we had this past summer.
Burtard says, “2018 was the second worst drought on record for Ute Water Conservancy District. 1977 being the worst drought on record. So, what we don’t want is another back to back drought.”
Scott Stearns from the NWS says, “we’re going to need not just normal, but above normal. I can’t say exactly how much or anything, but certainly above normal precipitation to make up for the lack of precipitation we’ve had over the last year or longer.”
The snowpack is looking great right now, and we still have plenty of time for the snowy trend to continue, or for the opposite to happen.
Burtard also says, “there’s several factors that could change a snowpack in a watershed. Those factors could be: we could have a really warm spring in 2019 and that can really impact and melt the snow so that we wouldn’t have to water supply that we need. Other factors would be dust on snow, or we could even have late spring snowstorms that could come in and really boost our snowpack.”
Stearns says, “one thing we need to be concerned about is still headed into the summer time, when exactly is it going to melt, and how long does it take to melt.”
The three month outlook from the Climate Predicition Center has western Colorado with slightly above normal precipitation and temperatures. This means that we could see a few more snow storms than normal in the mountains, which could be good for the snowpack. Remember, even though we’re in a good place right now with the snow pack, things can always change.