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Snowpack OK, Cold Temperatures Better

Elise Thatcher
Aspen Public Radio

Recent snow in the mountains is certainly going a long way to boosting the state’s snowpack. For much of the Front Range and parts of the Western Slope, the cold temperatures are making the biggest difference towards relieving some the drought conditions.

Wendy Ryan is with the Colorado Climate Center. She says the snowpack in the Roaring Fork Valley is at 87% of what’s normal.

"It’s way better than we had been just a few weeks ago, so April has brought us some really good moisture, mainly along the northern tier of the state."

That’s usually measured on April 8th, but this year... with all the recent storms.. the tally refers to Wednesday, April 24th. More snow means better supplies in mountain reservoirs, which provide water for West Slope and Front Range communities. But that 87% isn’t enough to keep the area from another dry year. The Roaring Fork Valley is still in a drought... just like the rest of the state.

“Our extremely warm summer season last year was hard hitting for soil moisture supplies across the state" Ryan says. "So even when the snowpack melts this year, we’re going to have one heck of soil profile to fill up before any of that water even reaches the stream. It just leaves uncertain how much of that water’s going to be available to us.”

What has been a big help is the wintry weather this month.

“So the cooler temperatures have not only kept the snow pack in the mountains, but they’ve kept water demand down, East of the divide and West of the Divide. So People in Denver and Fort Collins aren’t watering their lawns yet because it’s too cold to turn their water sprinklers on.”

Even though Ryan says she knows the weather is prompting some frustration.

“As much as people are ready for summer time, don’t complain about the cold temperatures just yet."

And Ryan says cold is a good thing to have compared to last year’s high temperatures in the spring.

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