THE SNOW-LY GRAIL

Local snowmobiling enthusiasts are not disappointed by the amount of snow when they venture into the White River Basin high country. Last weekend Ripple Creek was still measuring 85”. The most recent reports in the Yampa/White basin indicate snowpack is 109% of normal, but the White River is actually just at or slightly below average. Data is being skewed by the tremendous snowfall in the Yampa basin this winter.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service maintains four automated SNOTEL sites in the White River Basin on Ripple Creek, Burro Mountain, Trappers Lake and Bison Lake, and one manual course at Rio Blanco Ranch. The snow information is used by hydrologists to forecast downstream flows and determine reservoir capacity and water compacts. Recreationists and other water users can tap into this data to see live snow depths as well as water equivalents, create customizable data queries, or look at the plethora of predetermined templates.

The runoff is calculated using the years of climate data to predict intensity. Actual runoff is controlled by weather patterns as spring progresses to summer, but local anglers are anxiously awaiting to see the level of high flows and if they will have a scouring effect to wash the algae away and create a summer rec opportunity as good as winter 2020 has been.

Tiffany Jehorek Photos