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RBC I January saw the Pacific jet stream finally begin to shift southward; by mid January it had positioned itself over southern Wyoming and northern and central Colorado bringing much needed precipitation to basins west of the Continental Divide. In a reversal of conditions earlier this season, basins east of the Divide saw very little snowfall during this period. Unfortunately these storms were not enough to boost the statewide snowpack significantly. Recent snow surveys conducted by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) show that Colorado’s snowpack continues to track below the long-term average according to Phyllis Philipps with the NRCS.
Colorado’s statewide snowpack was 72 percent of average as of Feb. 1 and 62 percent of last year’s readings at this same time. The increased snowpack totals across western Colorado were somewhat offset by decreased snowpacks across the southern and eastern basins. This has resulted in nearly the same statewide snowpack percentage for two consecutive months.
The Yampa, White and North Platte basins are reporting nearly the same snowpack percentage as last month; 65 percent of average as of Feb. 1.
Statewide the snowpack remains well below what was measured last year on Feb. 1. This is most apparent in the Yampa and White river basins which boasted well above average snowpacks this time last year. The combined basins’ snowpack was measured at 60 percent of average on Feb. 1, just 48 percent of what was measured at this same time last year. Forecasts for spring and summer water supplies in these basins reflect the below average snowpack. Reservoir storage across the state continues to remain in good condition which should help ease potential shortages this season.
The White River/Yampa basin is at 60 percent of average and 48 percent of last year. Reservoir storage is 120 percent of average and 130 percent of last year.