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RBC I Including the Yampa and White River Basin, all Colorado river basins reported above-normal snow water equivalent as of the last day of 2015.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Yampa and White River Basin reported 102 percent of normal water equivalent in the area’s snows, but the northwest corner of the state had the lowest reported percent of normal snow-water equivalent of the eight drainages in Colorado.
A close distance ahead of the Yampa and White Rivers drainage was the Laramie and North Platte drainage with 103 percent of normal, in sharp contrast to the San Miquel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan River Basin in southwest Colorado, which reported 133 percent of normal water content as of Dec. 31.
Other well-above-normal river basins in Colorado were the Upper Rio Grand River Basin at 128 percent of normal, the Arkansas and Gunnison river basins at 122 percent of normal each while those in between were the the Upper Colorado River Headwaters Basin, listed with 113 percent of normal and the South Platte River Basin, which includes Denver and Fort Collins and the extreme north and east sections of the state, at 117 percent.
The dividing line between the Yampa/White basin and the Upper Colorado Headwaters runs east to west just a few miles south of Meeker and Rangely.
According to the University of Wyoming’s Water Resource Data System, which works in conjunction with the NRCS and the Water and Climate Center in Portland, Ore., on Dec. 31, the Yampa and White River Basin had a combined 101 percent of the normal snow/water equivalency but only 90 percent of the normal amount of precipitation. That means that the existing snows, which are below normal in depth, contain a higher water content than normal.
The three closest SNOTEL monitoring sites are Burro Mountain, south and east of Meeker; Trappers Lake, basically east of Meeker; and Ripple Creek, which is mostly east, continuing past Rio Blanco County Road 8.
Burro Mountain’s current snow/water content was unknown as was the percent of normal while 6.1 is the median for the date. Burro Mountain’s current total precipitation was missing as was the percent of normal precipitation. The normal precipitation level for Dec. 31 is 9.6 inches.
Trappers Lake currently has 5.0 inches of snow/water equivalent, the average snow/water equivalent is 7.4 inches and that is only 68 percent of normal. However, regarding actual precipitation, Trappers Lake had 8.6 inches of snow on Dec. 31 while average for that date is 8.7 inches, putting the precipation level at 99 percent of normal.
Ripple Creek is in great shape with 13.1 inches of snow/water equivalency compared to an average of 9.3 inches for 141 percent of normal for the date. Regarding actual precipitation, Ripple Creek’s SNOTEL monitor at 10,340 feet of altitude, reported 10.6 inches of current precipitation, an average on Dec. 31 of 11.2 inches, and a 95 percent of normal precipitation level.
There are only four locations within the Yampa and White River SNOTEL’s 20 data sites in the area that are reporting in 100 percent or above normal precipitation.
Those areas are the sites at: Crosho, reporting 118 percent of normal; Rabbit Ears, reporting 105 percent of normal precipitation for the date; Bison Lake, at 103 percent of normal; and Bear River, listed at 100 percent.
Ripple Creek, listed Thursday at 141 percent of normal water/snow equivalency is tops in the basin; followed by Crosho at 136 percent; Bear River at 127 percent; Rabbit Ears at 124 percent; and Battle Mountain at 122 percent.
The lowest-reporting data sites as of Thursday within the Yampa/White River basins are: Trappers Lake at 68 percent of north water/snow equivalency; Tower at 77 percent; Little Snake River at 85 percent; and Lost Dog and Divide Peak, which are tied at 87 percent.
The Colorado SNOTEL data station with the highest percent of normal precipitation in the state is situated at 10,000 feet near Mancos (in the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Jun river basins south and west of Durango), which reports 13.1 inches of precipitation compared to a normal of 7.8 inches, which places that site at 168 percent of normal. No. 2 is the Columbine Pass site in the Gunnison River Basin, which reports 160 percent of normal precipitation as of Dec. 31.