Aspen snowpack remains 12 percent above average |

Aspen snowpack remains 12 percent above average

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The Aspen-area snowpack remains above average going into the home stretch of ski season ” despite the lack of powder lately.

Overall, the snowpack for the Roaring Fork River basin is 12 percent above average, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Data collected at seven locations in the Roaring Fork River basin showed on Friday that the snowpack was 21 percent above average at Schofield Pass in the Crystal Valley drainage.

The snowpack east of Aspen near Grizzly Reservoir was 15 percent above average, the NRCS reported. The average amount water equivalent held in the snowpack at that site is 15.2 inches on the first day of spring. It was 17.5 inches this year.

The snowpack is holding up better in the Crystal Valley than the Fryingpan Valley, according to the conservation service’s measurements. Along with the Schofield site, the snowpack is 14 percent above average at North Lost Trail near Marble and 3 percent above average at McClure Pass.

In the Fryingpan Valley, the snowpack is 2 percent above average at the Ivanhoe site and right at average for March 20 at the Kiln site. The snowpack is 9 percent above average at the Nast site.

It’s been warm and generally dry through February and March in Colorado’s mountains. There has been only one big snowstorm this month in the Aspen area. Officials with the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management center said at a recent public meeting that the weather cycle is about four or five weeks ahead of schedule at lower elevations. In other words, it is drying out quicker.

The ski slopes are still holding up well, thanks to abundant snowfall in December and into January. While locals are powder-starved, the conditions are perfect for tourists who prefer groomed runs. The base softens up by late morning and makes the corduroy perfect for cruising. Bluebird days also have created pleasant skiing conditions.

The Roaring Fork Basin is faring better than other parts of Colorado. The southwest part of the state got hammered with snow earlier this season, but warm temperatures have taken a toll on the snowpack down there.

The Gunnison River basin’s snowpack is 98 percent of average; the Dolores/San Miguel is 95 percent of average; the San Juan basin is at 96 percent; and the Animas is at 90 percent, according to the conservation service.

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