Snow and icicles make their way off the street-side roof of Bad Axe Custom Cycles and Powder Coating on Wednesday.  Snowfall averages have totaled "above average" for the third successive month.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Snow and icicles make their way off the street-side roof of Bad Axe Custom Cycles and Powder Coating on Wednesday. Snowfall averages have totaled "above average" for the third successive month.

'Good shape for snowpack'

National agency predicts most abundant water supplies in more than a decade

Yampa and White River snowpack and reservoir storage as of March 1:

• Percent of average snowpack: 109

• Percent of last year's average snowpack: 130

• Percent of average reservoir storage: 111

• Percent of last year's reservoir storage: 106

With snowfall averages totaling "above average" for the third successive month, Northwest Colorado - as well as the state - stands to have the most abundant water supplies in more than 10 years, the National Resources Conservation Service reported.

December, January and February brought higher-than-normal snowfall and boosted snow accumulation levels across the state, according to the Conservation Service.

The trend rang true for Moffat County.

This December was the wettest in 30 years for the area, bringing more than 33 inches of snowfall, said Graham Roberts, a Trapper Mine environmental health and safety specialist who keeps records of snowfall and precipitation levels at the mine.

January and February followed suit, bringing above average snow accumulation, he said. With it, precipitation levels - or the amount of water produced by the fallen snow - also increased.

Last month brought 1.42 inches of precipitation, Roberts said. The month's 30-year average was 1.16 inches.

Above average precipitation such as that in Moffat County has affected the state's river system.

Recent surveys "show above average snowpack accumulations have now been reached in every major river basin in the state," according to a Conservation Service news release.

Across the state, snowpack topped out at 135 percent of average but reached 98 percent of reservoir capacity.

At a measuring point near Maybell, the Yampa River currently is holding 111 percent of its average flow, said Mike Gillespie, Conservation Service snow survey supervisor.

Colorado hasn't experienced higher-than-normal snowpacks in three years, the Conservation Service reported, and the state snowpack levels constitute the state's highest since 1997, when precipitation levels across the state totaled 145 percent of average.

The results bode well for the state's water supply this year.

"With the abundance of snowpack, along with good reservoir storage across most of the state, this year's water supplies appear to be the best in over a decade," according to the Conservation Service.

Gillespie agreed, but also offered a warning.

The past three months' snowfall "more than made up for the dry fall we had" this year, he said. "We're in good shape for snowpack."

Still, "another dry month or two and we could be down to average or below average" water supplies, he said. "I wouldn't go so far as to say we're out of the woods yet."

Until summer arrives, Moffat County residents should not expect the snow to subside, an area weather specialist said.

"I'd have people be prepared for more snow buildup," said Jim Pringle, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Grand Junction.

Residents can expect more snow for the months of March and April, Pringle said, adding that Craig could accumulate 5 to 10 inches of snow tonight.

Long-range forecasts for coming months predict above average temperatures and near or below average precipitation, Pringle said.

But, the meteorologist said he has doubts on that last point.

"We'll see if that actually happens," he said. "We haven't seen much : below average precipitation" this season.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com

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