Recent sunny and warmer days result in lower precipitation averages for area watersheds

SEAN McMAHON The snow was deep, the sun was warm and these two does were part of a group of five does and yearling fawns enjoying the improved weather east of Meeker on the Miller Creek Road. Having their photo taken from about 15 feet away didn’t seem to faze the deer as the group gathered just off the road for several minutes before slowly wandering away.

SEAN McMAHON The snow was deep, the sun was warm and these two does were part of a group of five does and yearling fawns enjoying the improved weather east of Meeker on the Miller Creek Road. Having their photo taken from about 15 feet away didn’t seem to faze the deer as the group gathered just off the road for several minutes before slowly wandering away.
SEAN McMAHON
The snow was deep, the sun was warm and these two does were part of a group of five does and yearling fawns enjoying the improved weather east of Meeker on the Miller Creek Road. Having their photo taken from about 15 feet away didn’t seem to faze the deer as the group gathered just off the road for several minutes before slowly wandering away.
RBC I What a difference 11 days makes! On Jan. 7, the snow-to-water ratio and the total precipitation figures for the Yampa and White river basins were 102 and 95 percent of normal, respectively. On Sunday, those figures were down to 89 percent of normal for snow-to-water ratio and 86 percent of normal precipitation for Jan. 18.

Ken Coffin, district ranger in the Blanco Ranger District of the White River National Forest office in Meeker, said the three most-indicative of the National Resource Conservation Service Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) monitoring sites for Rio Blanco County are located at Burro Mountain, Ripple Creek and Trappers Lake.
Local SNOTEL information is an offshoot of the University of Wyoming Water Resources Data System. It keeps track of all the Snotel sites in Colorado and most other Western states and is under the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Water and Climate Center in Portland, Ore.
Tiffany Harvey, the local Natural Resource Conservation Service representative in Meeker, identified Burro Mountain as located 23 miles east and south of Meeker, halfway between Buford and New Castle on the Buford-New Castle road; Ripple Creek, located approximately 52 miles east of Meeker, off of County Road 8; and Trappers Lake, located 48 miles mostly east and a little south of Meeker, also off of County Road 8.
As of Jan. 7, the SNOTEL monitoring site at Burro Mountain, situated at an altitude of 9,400 feet, indicated that morning there was a snow/water equivalent of 7.6 inches compared to the average of 6.8 inches, which is 112 percent of normal. The site also indicated the total precipitation was at 10.8 inches of snow compared to an average of 10.5 inches for the date, which is 103 percent of average.
The Ripple Creek area, located at 10,300 feet altitude, reported the current snow/water equivalent at 10.9 inches with an average of 10.7 percent, which is 112 percent of normal. The site also reported 11.1 inches of total precipitation compared with an average of 12.5 inches, which is 89 percent of average.
The Trappers Lake monitor, located at 9,700 feet altitude, reports only 5.5 inches of snow/water equivalent compared to an average of 8.3 inches for 66 percent of normal. In total precipitation, Snotel reported 9.1 inches with an average of 9.6 inches, which is 95 percent of normal.
As of Sunday, the Burro Mountain SNOTEL site reported 8.4 inches of snow-to-water content with the median being 8.2 inches for 102 percent of normal. The site reported 11.5 inches of precipitation with an average of 11.6 inches, for 99 percent of normal.
At the Ripple Creek SNOTEL monitor, Ripple Creek reported 12.8 inches of snow to water content, 12.6 inches being the average for snow-to-water content for 102 percent of normal. The SNOTEL monitor also reported 11.2 inches of precipitation compared to an average of 14.3 inches of precipitation for only 78 percent of normal.
On Sunday, the monitor at Trappers Lake indicated only 5.8 inches of snow-to-water content while the average or median is 9.8 inches, for 59 percent of normal. For total precipitation, the Trappers monitor reported 9.1 inches with an average of 10.9 inches, standing at only 83 percent of normal.
The three SNOTEL sites are part of the Yampa and White River basin’s watershed. Encompassing much of the northwest corner of the state, the entire two-river watershed was reported at 102 percent of the snow/water average year as of Jan. 7 and at 95 percent of total precipitation.
On Sunday, those figures were down to 89 percent for the snow/water average and 86 percent of normal precipitation.
Some of the other SNOTEL monitoring sites in the two river basins are Battle Mountain, Bison Lake, Divide Peak, the Little Snake River, Lynx Pass, Rabbit Ears and Whiskey Park.
The state of Colorado is divided into eight geographic areas.
On Jan. 7, there were four basins with higher overall precipitation levels for the year than the Yampa and White River basin and three that were far behind. As of Sunday, there were five state river basins in better shape for precipitation than the Yampa/White basin and only two in worse condition.
All eight river basins are listed below from best to worst condition. The name of the river basin and two figures are given. The first set of numbers will be the snow-to-water ratio percent of normal/the second figure is the percent of precipitation compared to normal:
1. South Platte River Basin: 103/103; 2. Arkansas River Basin: 103/100; 3. Upper Colorado River Basin: 101/96; 4. Gunnison River Basin: 90/95; 5. Laramie and North Platte River Basin: 88/93; 6. Yampa/White River Basin: 89/86; 7. San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan River Basin: 74/74; and 8. Upper Rio Grande River Basin: 65/67.