Aspen snowpack high, but nothing like ’95
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” Without a doubt, there is a massive snowpack remaining high in Colorado’s mountains ” and, without a doubt, it is disappearing fast, at least up to about 10,000 feet.
The rivers are running high and are bound to stay high throughout June.
Nevertheless, the spring runoff this year is melting much differently than in 1995, the last time there was this much snow.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service, the federal agency that tracks snowpack totals, said the existing snowpack at Grizzly Reservoir ” at the 10,600 foot elevation east of Aspen ” had a snow-water equivalent of 4.2 inches Monday. That is a whopping 223 percent above average for June 2.
Last year, the snowpack was already long gone by June 2 at that location. In fact, the snow melted out there by May 19.
In 1995, it was a different story. The water equivalent in the snowpack on June 2 at Grizzly Reservoir was 22.80 inches ” easily the highest amount going back to at least 1981 (the earliest statistics available on the NRCS website).
The snowpack was stubborn in 1995. The snow-water equivalent didn’t dip below 10 inches until June 15, and the snowpack didn’t completely melt out until June 23. That’s the last year that flooding posed a problem locally.
This year, the snowpack in the Roaring Fork River basin is still 111 percent above average. The NRCS tracks snowpack at seven sites in the Roaring Fork basin. At the four below 10,000 feet in elevation, the snowpack is at or below average. It is well above average at the three sites above 10,400 feet in elevation.
Schofield Pass has one of the highest snowpack levels remaining in Colorado. It’s more than double the average snowpack for this time in the year, a sign that trips to Crested Butte will be interesting this year, no matter what backcountry route is selected.
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The town of Snowmass Village has its eyes on some safety improvements on Highline Road and a section of Brush Creek Road that will give pedestrians and cyclists a little more room to breathe on the side of the road.