February snows boost snowpack

Aspen Times StaffAspen, CO Colorado

The snowpack in Colorado’s mountains improved, as a whole, thanks to a return of a “normal” weather pattern during February, according to the federal agency that tracks precipitation.Statewide, the snowpack is at 92 percent of average and 5 percent higher than the level on March 5 last year, according to the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service. The statewide total was essentially unchanged from last month, when it was at 91 percent of average.However, the biggest change during February was the improvement of snowpack levels in the mountains, particularly in northwestern Colorado, the agency noted Monday in its monthly report. The Yampa and White River Basins, for example, saw their snowpacks shoot from only 68 percent of average on Feb. 1 to 84 percent of average on March 1, the report showed.The Roaring Fork Valley’s snowpack is spotty at the seven computerized stations where it is measured. East of Aspen, it is 1 percent above average. It’s held steady at that level most of the winter.In the Crystal River Valley, part of the Roaring Fork Basin, the snowpack came in at 86 percent of average at Schofield Pass; 93 percent of average at McClure Pass; and 92 percent of average at North Lost Trail near Marble.In the Frying Pan Valley, Nast Lake was at 84 percent of average; the Kiln site was at 93 percent; and Ivanhoe measured at 86 percent of average.The Roaring Fork Basin’s overall snowpack is 91 percent of average, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service report.”Overall, February was a pretty good month for Colorado’s snowpack conditions. We saw those in the greatest need see the largest improvements,” said Allen Green, state conservationist with the NRCS.Conditions today would create below average runoff levels in much of the state, as jointly forecast by the NRCS and the National Weather Service. Below average runoff is forecast throughout the Western Slope, with slightly below average throughout most of the Colorado River basin. East of the Continental Divide, streamflow forecasts range from near average to above average, the report said.


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