Local snowpack falls to two-thirds of normal
March 1, 2002
The best powder day of the season notwithstanding, the Aspen area’s snowpack fell further below average in February.
The snowpack for the Roaring Fork River drainage was only about two-thirds of normal as of Feb. 28, according to the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The snowpack for the drainage has dwindled as winter has progressed. It was at 81 percent at the start of January, 73 percent at the start of February and is now only 66 percent to start March.
Feb. 21 provided one of the few bona fide powder days this season. Powder-starved skiers flocked to the hills when 10 inches of snow graced the slopes.
The snow survey division of the Natural Resources Conservation Service measures snow at seven automated sites in the Roaring Fork River drainage.
The Independence Pass site is showing the highest snowpack level. Even so, it is only 75 percent of average, according to the NRCS Web site.
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Elsewhere in the drainage, the snowpack was 70 percent of average at Nast Lake and 69 percent at the Kiln location, both up the Fryingpan Valley. No data was available Thursday from a third site in the Fryingpan – at Ivanhoe.
Conditions varied widely in the Crystal River Valley. Snowpack was only 54 percent of average at the McClure Pass site and only 47 percent of average at the North Lost Trail site. However, data from Feb. 27 showed Schofield Pass was at 74 percent of average.
The Roaring Fork River drainage’s snowpack is on par with the larger Upper Colorado River Basin, of which it is part. The Upper Colorado’s snowpack was also 66 percent of average at February’s end.
Many parts of the state are suffering even drier conditions. The Gunnison River drainage, for instance, has a snowpack of only 53 percent. The San Miguel and neighboring rivers have a snowpack that is only 40 percent of average.
The NRCS Web site provides daily updates on snowpack information. Go to http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/index.htm and navigate to current data on snow-water equivalent.