February brings nominal snowpack growth

With time running out to play catch-up, Colorado’s snowpack remains well below average, increasing only nominally last month, the Natural Resources Conservation Service said Tuesday.

Storm systems boosted the state average to 73 percent of normal on March 1, compared to 71 percent as of Jan. 1 and Feb. 1. But it was just 83 percent of the level at this time during the dry winter of 2011-12.

“The most recent streamflow forecasts continue to point towards well below normal volumes for this spring and summer in all the major river basins in Colorado. Reservoir storage across the state remains well below average, at just 71 percent of average as of March 1” and 67 percent of the same time a year ago, the NRCS added in a news release.

Reservoir levels generally were much higher a year ago but storage was drawn down because of the poor snowpack a year ago.

“Unless Colorado sees weather patterns in March that bring well above average snowfall and precipitation to the state, there will not be much relief from the current drought conditions,” the agency said.

February storms benefited most basins in the state, but not all, it said.

The combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins’ March 1 snowpack was 83 percent, compared to 88 percent a month earlier. The South Platte Basin showed the largest increase, hitting 63 percent of normal, up from 54 percent a month earlier.

The Colorado Basin is at 70 percent of normal and 86 percent of the same time a year ago. For the Gunnison, those figures are 74 and 87 percent, respectively.

The Yampa/White is at 76 percent of average; the Rio Grande, 79 percent; and the Arkansas, 71 percent.

Reservoir storage levels range from just 53 percent of average in the Rio Grande Basin to 106 percent for the Yampa/White.


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