State’s snowpack a little below average | AspenTimes.com

State’s snowpack a little below average

Sophia Madsen, 8, and Caroline Moriarty, 7, warm their hands Friday as they sit on a bench near Wagner Park in downtown Aspen. Snow Thursday night and Friday helped boost the Roaring Fork Basins snowpack to 97 percent of average.

Aspen, CO ColoradoColorado’s snowpack is slightly below average for this time of year despite the blizzards that slammed the eastern part of the state in late December.The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service reported Friday that the statewide snowpack was 96 percent of average as of Jan. 1.The snowpack varies widely around the state. This is a rare year when the snowpack percentages are higher on the plains and below average in many parts of the mountains.”That’s certainly a pattern we rarely see across the state,” Allen Green, state conservationist with the NRCS, said in a prepared statement. “However, it’s expected after receiving two back-to-back upslope blizzards which have pounded the eastern plains.”Snowpack totals ranged from 28 percent above average in the South Platte basin in the plains to a low of 77 percent of average in the combined San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel basins of southwestern Colorado.In the Roaring Fork Valley, a dry spell in late December and early January took a toll on the snowpack. The snowpack throughout the Roaring Fork Basin, which includes the Fryingpan and Crystal valleys, was 97 percent of average Friday, according to the NRCS. It was 108 percent of average Dec. 21.However, the dry spell broke Thursday night, blanketing the slopes with 6 inches of snow with more falling. The NRCS’s automated snow measuring station east of Aspen showed a higher snowpack than the basin as a whole. The snowpack closest to Aspen was 109 percent of average Friday.For a portion of the state, this year’s snowpack is considerably better than last year at this time, according to the NRCS.This year’s snowpack ranges from two to four times that of last year at some measuring sites in southern Colorado.”This has been a welcome change for these water users who were faced with well below average snowpack totals last year,” Green said.However, the state snowpack as a whole is only 94 percent of what it was last winter as of Jan. 1, the agency reported.

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