Snowy Colorado 100% of median Friday ahead of next week’s storm


DENVER — Colorado’s snowpack was 100% of median on Friday after this week’s snowstorm and ahead of another storm that will bring snow to the state on Monday, though forecast models still show wide variations in the amount of snow that will fall.

The snowpack has increased fairly steadily over the past two weeks after a dry spell in late January and early March. The foothills west of Denver and Boulder saw the most snowfall in this week’s storm, but other areas of the state also saw a few inches.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Colorado is now 22 days away from seeing its median peak snow levels before the spring melt begins.

On Friday, all eight river basins in the state were above median snowfall levels of 90%. The Gunnison Basin (112% of the median) had the most robust snowpack, followed by the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan Basins (104% of the median), the upper reaches of the Upper Colorado (104% of the median), the Upper Rio Grande (101% of the median) and the South Platte basins (101% of the median).

The Laramie and North Platte (99% of median), Arkansas (96% of median), and Yampa and White (91% of median) basins were all slightly below median levels.

The Colorado Basin River Forecast Center released a forecast this week indicating that the April-July water supply forecast is near much below average for the Upper Colorado River Basin and the Great Basin. The water supply forecast for Colorado’s Upper Mainstem Basin is 65 to 100 percent of normal; 75-110% of normal for Gunnison Basin; 65-75% of normal for the Dolores Basin; and 65-85% of normal for the San Juan Basin.

Forecast inflows for reservoirs in the Colorado River were generally between 55% and 75% for April-June, with the exception of Blue Mesa Reservoir, which is forecast to have an inflow of 92%. For this period.

The CBRFC said the upcoming storm is expected to drop another 0.5″ to 0.75″ of precipitation at higher elevations, which should further strengthen the snowpack.

But there was still great uncertainty between different models as to exactly where the system will move into Colorado late Sunday through Tuesday and how much snow it will bring to Colorado, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder. .

Temperatures in Denver on Monday will likely stay around zero and there will be some sort of precipitation. But the WCMWF model holds the system further south, with less precipitation, while the GFS has the storm in northern Colorado with heavier precipitation, according to the NWS.

“Even based on the track of the GFS storm, one would think southeast Colorado through Kansas and Nebraska have the best chance of heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions,” NWS meteorologists wrote during from the discussion on Friday’s forecast.

US Drought Watch

Drought across Colorado on March 15, 2022.

While the snowpack is at 100%, Colorado’s drought is still relatively unchanged this week. Ninety-two percent of Colorado is experiencing moderate drought or worse. Fifty-seven percent of the state, mostly along the Eastern Plains, is experiencing severe drought or worse.

And about 8% of the state — mostly along the southern border with New Mexico — is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought conditions, according to the US Drought Monitor.

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