NoCO Snowpack Boosted While Southern Colorado Still Dry
Recent snowstorms have pushed Colorado’s snowpack up to 62 percent of normal. But according to experts, those storms didn’t provide relief to the driest areas in the southern half of the state.
“The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins are the lowest,” said Brian Domonkos, a hydrologist with the Colorado Snow Survey Program. The mountains where the Rio Grande River originates in Southern Colorado are only at 38 percent of normal, “and they saw very little help in the terms of snowpack from this storm.”
"The question is how much will it be enough to get back to normal levels. I think that might be a difficult stretch to get to."
On the flip side, the South Platte River basin, which provides water for Denver and the northern Front Range saw the most moisture. The storm that moved in April 15 and lasted for days brought more than 40 inches of snow in some parts of northern Larimer county.
“The better basins in the state are the South Platte and the Arkansas,” he said. “In terms of moisture this storm seems to have benefited the South Platte the most. They had about 2.4 inches of snow water equivalent come from this storm mainly because it was an upslope storm and that’s where the highest mountains are.”
The South Platte River basin is currently at 88 percent. But it’s a bright spot in Colorado, and the rest of the western U.S., currently gripped by a developing drought.
“The state percent is now at 62 percent of normal after this storm. We got about an inch of snow water, and that’s significant, but it’s not where we’d like to be.” Domonkos said. “What’s really going to make a difference is future precipitation. And adding to what we already have.”
River basins across the state would benefit from more spring precipitation, Domonkos said, especially because the spring snow melt began early this spring.
“You can always get late April snow storms,” Domonkos said. “That’s not too difficult. Especially if the moisture and the cold temps are there. And from what I’m hearing there is a fair chance that that could happen. The question is how much will it be enough to get back to normal levels. I think that might be a difficult stretch to get to.”