Colorado snowpack soars above last year’s level
The snowpack in the Colorado mountains was 161 percent of last year’s level and 116 percent of average on March 1, the Natural Resources Conservation Service announced in a report Thursday.
Snowpack levels were above average in every portion of the state except the southwest, the conservation service reported.
The hefty snowpack and solid prospects for filling reservoirs mean “drought conditions in most basins should be alleviated,” the federal agency said. The most recent streamflow forecasts — indications of runoff based on snowpack levels — suggest that rafters, kayakers and other water enthusiasts can expect a good spring and summer.
“The most recent streamflow forecasts continue to point towards above to well above normal volumes for this spring and summer in most of the major river basins in Colorado; the exceptions will be the Upper Rio Grande and southwest basins,” the conservation service said in its report.
The snowpack in the Roaring Fork River Basin is well above average for this time of year at all seven locations where the conservation service has automated measuring sites. The snowpack near the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River east of Aspen was 124 percent of average as of 2:30 p.m. Thursday. The Ivanhoe site near the headwaters of Ruedi Reservoir was at 145 percent of average. Schofield Pass and McClure Pass, major contributors to the Crystal River, were at 130 percent and 114 percent, respectively.
The high snowpack in the upper Fryingpan Valley forced the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to crank up releases from Ruedi Dam to a higher-than-average level in February to make room for runoff. The reservoir recently fell below 72 percent full.
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Mountain Rescue Aspen is expanding its education efforts to try to keep people safe in the backcountry during winters and summers. It will host a workshop on Dec. 8 titled, “How to Plan a Backcountry Tour.”