Snowpack levels looking good heading into warm months
Colorado snowpack, reservoir levels
Figures represent percentage of historic average in April.
Basin Snowpack Reservoir storage
Gunnison 109 117
Upper Colorado 114 115
South Platte 116 107
North Platte 117 115
Yampa/White River 112 115
Arkansas 116 120
Upper Rio Grande 104 91
San Miguel (others in SW Colo.) 92 106
Source: Natural Resources Conservation Service
Colorado’s snowpack conditions are above average heading into the warmer months of the year after a wet April and end of March.
All but one of Colorado’s snowpack basins are above 100 percent of the historic average, and as of Monday, the state was at 101 percent.
The river basins that affect northern Colorado, the Upper Colorado and South Platte, are at 114 and 116 percent of the average, respectively. Both jumped 12 percentage points from their levels at the beginning of April.
March and April snows are ideal for building snowpack, because they have high moisture content, and wet, snowy springs are key for good water years, said Northern Water’s Brian Werner in February.
Reservoir storage for the state also is above the historic average at 113 percent. The Upper Colorado River Basin is at 115 percent and the South Platte River Basin is at 107 percent.
As of the end of April, the state was above average in total snowfall, according to Kyle Fredin, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Boulder. The official measuring center at Denver International Airport showed a total of 72.8 inches this season, 25 percent more than an average year, and Greeley got 43.6 inches, about 3 inches more than normal.
Though both the snowfall and snowpack are above average, Fredin said they aren’t excessive.
“We’re within what we typically see,” he said.
With temperatures expected to hit the 80s by the end of the week, the focus for meteorologists is shifting to monitoring rates of melting snow. Ideally, the mountain snowpack will melt and runoff at a controlled rate, but Fredin said the National Weather Service will watch for higher temperatures in the mountains and fast melting rates. If flooding occurs, it typically happens in early June.
“We’re about a month away from that,” Fredin said. “Time is on our side in that regard.” ❖