Snowpack edges toward 'normal'

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS The windblown snow that fell on the mountains last Wednesday helped nudge the snowpack closer to 20-year averages.

"This latest storm helped out a little," said Vance Fulton of the Natural Resources Conservation Services.

His office measures the water content of the snow at a variety of sites to determine how much water will be available for downstream municipal and agricultural uses later this summer.

The data also lets managers of reservoirs know how much water they can afford to release and still fill their impoundments this spring.

Throughout the Yampa and White river basins, water content averages 80 percent of the 20-year average. However, the farther south you go in northwestern Colorado, the stronger the snowpack is.

At Ripple Creek in the Flat Tops range about 50 miles south of Steamboat, the 21.4 inches of moisture stored in the snowpack is 94 percent of average, and the same conditions apply nearby at Trappers Lake.

At Buffalo Pass, on the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass, there is just 9.1 inches of water in the snow, and that is 78 percent of the average of 11.6 inches. At Columbine, in north Routt County, there is 19.1 inches of water in the snowpack. That figure is 82 percent of normal.

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