Snowpack – Way Above Normal!

Mark Volt taking April 1 snow measurements on Gore Pass
Mark Volt taking April 1 snow measurements on Gore Pass

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 125% of median. This is a very similar to the high April 1st. snowpack in 2011. We were at only 89% last year and only 58% back in the drought year of 2012. Snow density is averaging 32%, which means that for every foot of snow there are 3.8 inches of water and that’s about normal for April 1st. From this point on, spring runoff will be highly dependent on melting conditions (i.e., temperature and wind), as well as additional spring snow accumulation and/or rainfall. Irrigators, water users and river runners should anticipate higher stream and river flows for the upcoming summer. A welcome change from last year. Localized flooding may be a concern if all this snow comes off too fast.

Reported median readings for the major river basins in Colorado are high as well: Colorado River Basin 133%; Gunnison River Basin, 150%; South Platte River Basin, 125%; Yampa and White River Basins, 122%; Arkansas River Basin, 143%; Upper Rio Grande Basin, 149%; San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River Basins 159%; and Laramie and North Platte River Basins, 124%.

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 reading 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

NRCS Kremmling Field Office snow survey for April 1, 2019, compared to long-term median.
NRCS Kremmling Field Office snow survey April 1 moisture content records.