Aspen snowpack up 16 percent |

Aspen snowpack up 16 percent

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Colorado’s snowpack is 10 percent above average, after a series of storms in December boosted it from near record lows at the start of the month to near record highs, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) reported Thursday.

The snowpack is highest in the southern mountains and lowest in northern Colorado, the federal agency reported. Overall, the snowpack as of Jan. 1 was 13 percent higher than on the same date last year.

The snowpack in the Roaring Fork River Basin was 16 percent above average as of 2 p.m. Thursday. The NRCS has seven automated Snowpack Telemetry stations scattered in the Roaring Fork, Fryingpan and Crystal river basins for measurement.

The Nast Lake site in the Fryingpan Valley was 50 percent above average Thursday, while the Ivanhoe site was 37 percent above average. The measurement at Kiln was only 16 percent above average.

Schofield Pass in the Crystal River drainage was 1 percent below average but McClure Pass was 16 percent above average. No reading was available from the North Lost Trail site near Marble.

The snowpack measuring station east of Aspen near Grizzly Reservoir was 19 percent above average Thursday. More snow is forecast through this weekend throughout much of Colorado.

The early readings don’t indicate how the snowpack will fare over the course of the winter. The NRCS noted that the state typically has received about 40 percent of its “seasonal maximum accumulation” of snow by Jan. 1. But after a dry November across the state, it is remarkable that the snowpack is above normal.

In southern Colorado, the Arkansas basin is 37 percent above average; the Rio Grande is 37 percent above average; and the San Juan, Animas and Dolores basins are 29 percent above average.

In the central part of the state, the Colorado River basin is at 5 percent above average and the Gunnison basin is 17 percent above.

In the north, the South Platte basin is 7 percent below average; the North Platte is 10 percent; and the Yampa/White River basin is 15 percent off average, the NRCS reported.

“The good start to the snowpack accumulation season has many water managers relieved about water supplies that can be expected later in 2008,” the NRCS said in a prepared statement. “With as much as 80 percent of the state’s surface water originating from the melting snowpack, it’s critical that the state receive an adequate winter snowfall.”

The Aspen Skiing Co. reported no new snow over the past 24 hours on Friday morning.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for Friday: The avalanche danger for the Aspen zone is considerable on slopes facing N-NE-E-SE-S near and above treeline. On NW-W-SW aspects you will find pockets of considerable danger in steeper cross-loaded terrain features. Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered ones probable at these elevations. Steep slopes with fresh wind slabs should be avoided at this time. Below treeline, the avalanche danger is an overall moderate.

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