Feds: 2013-14 water year slightly above average in Aspen-area | AspenTimes.com

Feds: 2013-14 water year slightly above average in Aspen-area

The montly precipitation chart shows how recent water years, which run October through September, compared to average.

A snowy January and February plus a rainy May and August boosted total precipitation in the Roaring Fork River basin to slightly above average for the 2013-14 water year, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The federal agency tracks snow and rain at seven automated sites at the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River as well as the Fryingpan and Crystal river valleys. The water year is considered from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

"Things were pretty normal until January, when it looked like it might be drying up. Then we started to get all that snow, which put us above average for a while," Mage Hultstrand, assistant snow survey supervisor for the conservation service in Lakewood, said via email. "June was very dry, but thankfully we got some good rain in July and August and ended up right at normal precipitation for the water year."

The conservation service's website shows that total precipitation at the Independence Pass site east of Aspen was at 104 percent of average for the year. There were 32.4 inches of precipitation recorded. The average at that site between 1981 and 2000 was 31.2 inches.

The site with the highest reading for the year was Kiln, at an elevation of 9,600 feet in the Fryingpan Valley. It recorded 28 inches of precipitation for the year compared with an average of 25 inches. That was 112 percent of average.

McClure Pass in the Crystal River Valley was the only site in the Roaring Fork Basin that was below average for the year. The 33 inches recorded there was 96 percent of average.

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Schofield Pass received 50.4 inches of precipitation for the water year, 102 percent of average.

The Roaring Fork Basin as a whole ended at 103 percent of average, according to the conservation service's data.

Above-average precipitation in January, February, May and August kept the basin at average conditions despite the dry months of December, April and June, Hultstrand noted.

"All in all, the Roaring Fork had a very average year for precipitation, which is great," she said. "After 2012 and 2013, we will take average."

Precipitation was slightly below average for water year 2013, about 9 inches lower than average in 2012 and about 6 inches higher in 2011.

scondon@aspentimes.com