Late storms build Aspen’s snowpack
ASPEN – The Aspen-area snowpack has edged closer to its 30-year average since mid-March and has a chance to gain more ground with another spring blizzard barreling down on the Roaring Fork Valley.
The overall snowpack for the Roaring Fork basin was 93 percent of average Monday, compared to 88 percent of average in the state as a whole, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Aspen area is riding the dividing between dry and wet parts of the state this winter, the conservation service said in a press release. “The continuation of an El Nino weather pattern has brought below average snowfall and precipitation to the northern river basins of the state. … Meanwhile, the snowpack readings in southern Colorado’s river basins remain near to slightly above average.”
The snowpack has been below average all winter in the Yampa, White, Colorado and North and South Platte basins. The highest snowpacks in the state are in the Arkansas and Rio Grande basins.
The Roaring Fork basin has benefited from storms in late March and early April. The conservation service measures snowpack at seven automated sites in the basin. The Independence site east of Aspen is 92 percent of average. Snowpacks were higher at sites in the Crystal Valley and lower in the Fryingpan Valley, both parts of the Roaring Fork basin.
In the Crystal, Schofield Pass had a snowpack at 97 percent of average. McClure Pass was at 102 percent of average, and North Lost Trail, near Marble, was at 95 percent of average.
In the Fryingpan Valley, Ivanhoe was at 94 percent; Kiln was at only 79 percent, and Nast was at 75 percent.
As of March 17, the snowpack for the basin overall was only 87 percent of average, compared to 93 percent Monday.
The state’s snowpack typically peaks in April, the conservation service said, but the statewide deficit is so great that it is unlikely to reach average, even with April blizzards.
“Given the marginal snowpack conditions across much of the state, the outlook for spring and summer water supplies remains below average for most of Colorado,” the conservation service said. “Near average runoff is only expected in portions of the southern basins.”
The average reservoir storage is above average in the state, so that will alleviate the low runoff.
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