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Snowpack So Far: Good News For Northern Colorado, Less In South

Colorado Climate Center
Precipitation over Colorado, Utah and Wyoming as a percentage of normal.

After a slow start this fall, snowpack in Colorado's northern mountains has made up some ground with winter storms.

Wendy Ryan, the assistant state climatologist, said the snowpack is uneven across the mountains.

"The northern basins are at or above average and then the further south you get they are doing a little bit worse," she said "It's really the southwestern part of the state that's doing the worst."

The San Juan Basin, for example, is at 78 percent of normal, but the Upper Colorado basin is at 109 percent of normal.

Coming up with a winter forecast is a little more difficult, because there is no El Niño or La Niña in 2014. Scientists are watching to see if an El Niño develops later this year. Normally, an El Niño during the winter correlates with wetter winters in southern Colorado.

Ryan said it is too early in the season to know how the winter will play out. A few good storms in the southwest could make a big difference.

Northern Colorado reservoirs are in good shape, Ryan said.

"The South Platte as reservoir storage at 157 percent of average and that is really good for this time of year."

The southern part of the state is currently in drought conditions. In the southwest, a few good snows could alleviate that. In the state's southeast, though, it's "a completely different story," said Ryan.

While that region had a normal season this year in terms of precipitation, it has long been in severe drought and will take more time to recover.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn has been reporting from Colorado for more than five years, primarily from the Western Slope.
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