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Colorado Had A Great Snowpack Year, In Some Cases Really Great

This is an image of two rows of fir tree saplings along a wooden fence, covered in snow and in drifts of snow.
Wikimedia Commons
Snow on pine trees.

Skiing across Colorado’s high country was exceptional in 2014, with some resorts reporting more than 300 inches of snow. All that snow translated to an above-average snowpack.

According to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, peak snowpack across some of the state’s major basins was in the top 10 of the last 34 years.

Brian Domonkos, NRCS hydrologist and survey supervisor for the Colorado Snow Survey Program, said some areas of the state had exceptional snowpack this year.

“Say the North Platte, South Platte, Yampa and White; some of those snowpacks in terms of peak snowpack were in the top seven of the last 34 years,” he said.

According to NRCS data:

  • The Yampa and White saw the 8th highest peak snowpack of the last 29 years.
  • The North Platte saw the 7th highest peak snowpack of the last 34 years.
  • The South Platte saw the 6th highest peak snowpack of the last 34 years.

Snowpack measurements are vital to area water managers that use them to gage how much supply they'll have for users to consume over the year.

“I will say that on an average year, between 50 and 80 percent of stream flows and the water we see in our rivers and reservoirs comes from snowmelt,” Domonkos said. “Having an idea of that snowpack and what we have is kind of a reservoir, so to speak, of what we have from snowpack alone since precipitation beyond that can be very difficult to predict.”

River levels across Northern Colorado will continue to decline to normal flows following the snowmelt. Ample rain coupled with runoff earlier has caused bans of inner tubes on area rivers and flooding in parts of Weld County.

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