April 1, 2016
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Kremmling Field Office snow surveyors Mark Volt and Vance Fulton took the April 1 snow survey measurements during the last days of March. Snowpack for Middle Park and the upper Colorado River Basin stands at 116 % of average. We were only at 78% last April 1st.
Thanks to a snowy March, the snowpack in the mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 95% to 141% of the 30-year average. Snow density is averaging 29%, which means that for a foot of snow there are 3.5 inches of water. At this point in time irrigators, towns, river runners and other water users can expect near normal river levels this summer. From this point on, spring runoff will be highly dependent on melting conditions (i.e., temperature and wind), as well as spring snow accumulation and/or rainfall.
Reported average readings for the major river basins in Colorado are as follows: Colorado River Basin 104%; Gunnison River Basin, 93%; South Platte River Basin,107%; Yampa and White River Basins,104%; Arkansas River Basin, 85%; Upper Rio Grande Basin, 88%; San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River Basins 81%; and Laramie and North Platte River Basins, 110%.
Most of the snow courses around Middle Park have been read since the 1940s. Snow course readings are taken at the end of each month, beginning in January and continuing through April. March is historically the snowiest month, and the April 1 readings are the most critical for predicting runoff and summer water supplies, as most of our high country snowpack peaks around that time. Manual snow courses will be read for the final time this year at the end of April.
For further information, including real-time snow and precipitation data for SNOTEL (automated Snow Telemetry) sites, visit https://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/index.html.