Snowpack

Stephanie Daniel / KUNC

The early season snowstorms that hit the Rocky Mountain region this fall have boosted snowpack levels between two and three times the average.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture report shows snow water equivalent above 150% and 200% of average throughout Idaho, northern Colorado and western Montana. Those levels are also scattered across Wyoming and parts of northern Utah.

Much of the Mountain West saw record breaking snowfall last year which was great news for the mountain resort industry. This year's snowfall may be less intense. 

Courtesy of the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies

Snowpack in every part of Colorado’s high country is sporting layers of dust, according to a new statewide survey of the state’s winter accumulation.

“This is a low frequency dust season,” wrote Jeff Derry, head of the Colorado Dust on Snow Program, in a post about the survey results. “But may be a high consequence snowmelt season.”

Stephanie Daniel / KUNC

Recent figures show snowpack across Colorado is up by almost half after late-winter, early-spring storms.

The Denver Post reports that while the snowfall that pounded Colorado's mountains in recent weeks has helped break the near-term drought, water experts aren't declaring an end to the troubling long-term trend of low water levels as the state's climate shifts to greater deficiency of moisture.

Marcin Wichary / CC BY 2.0

The U.S. Forest Service says some trails in the Aspen area might not open until well into the summer, if at all, due to a heavy snowpack and avalanche debris.

The Aspen Times reports that Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Karen Schroyer said Tuesday that the biggest questions exist for the Conundrum Trail and parking lot southwest of Aspen.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

High snowpack in the southern Rocky Mountains this winter will likely stave off a shortage declaration in the Colorado River watershed in 2020, relieving pressure on water managers attempting to navigate future scarcity.

New data from U.S. Bureau of Reclamation models show a lessened risk of a key Colorado River reservoir dropping far enough to trigger a first-ever shortage declaration. Snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin is at 138 percent of the long-term median, a level not seen in mid-March since 1997.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

Drought conditions in much of the southwestern United States have improved due to surges of moisture over the last few months, but national forecasters and climate experts are warning that it hasn't been enough to alleviate concerns about long-term water supplies around the region.

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center and others held a briefing Thursday on the conditions in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

Eric Hjermstad
Luke Runyon / KUNC

Each winter, anxious water managers, farmers and city leaders in the American Southwest turn their eyes toward the snowy peaks of the southern Rocky Mountains.

The piling snow is a massive frozen reservoir, and its depth and weight can foreshadow the year ahead. Millions of dollars are spent divining what a heavy or light snowpack means for the region's reservoirs, for its booming cities, for its arid farmland.

Luke Runyon / KUNC/LightHawk

Following one of the hottest and driest years on record, the Colorado River and its tributaries throughout the western U.S. are likely headed for another year of low water.

That’s according to an analysis by the Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado Boulder. Researcher Jeff Lukas, who authored the briefing, says water managers throughout the Colorado River watershed should brace themselves for diminished streams and the decreasing likelihood of filling the reservoirs left depleted at the end of 2018.

The briefing relies on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Natural Resources Conservation Service among others.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

A first-of-its-kind cloud seeding program has started in the mountains of southern Wyoming and could soon be coming to Colorado.

Both states already seed clouds from land-based towers. The practice of spraying silver iodide or other chemicals into winter storm clouds to get them to drop more snow isn’t new, but using aircraft is.

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