State snowpack averages improve

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The amount of water in Colorado's high-country snowpack has edged a bit closer to normal levels in several basins as the end of the snow season approaches.

Mike Gillespie, the state snowpack survey supervisor, said the mountain basins in the state's southern tier, hit hard by last year's drought, are now close to normal.

''It's a pretty significant turnaround from a year ago,'' Gillespie said. ''They've got two or three times what they had last year, so they've been bailed out. Without that kind of snow, they would have faced some serious problems this year.''

One problem spot in Colorado is the South Platte basin, which supplies 80 percent of Denver's drinking water. It is still 30 percent below its 30-year average for March 1.

Overall, the amount of stored water in mountain basins statewide crept up to 85 percent last month, a slight improvement over the 81 percent level recorded Feb. 1.

With Colorado entering what is typically the snowiest month of the year, there's still a chance the northern basins can catch up.

''We get about 20 percent of our annual snowfall in March, so it's an important month,'' Gillespie said.

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