January snow pushed precipitation slightly above average for Yampa Valley | CraigDailyPress.com

January snow pushed precipitation slightly above average for Yampa Valley

Too soon to tell if winter will break drought

The thick, white blanket of snow covering most of Northwest Colorado thanks to consistent storms throughout January has helped push precipitation above average.

Precipitation in the Yampa and White River basins was surveyed at 106 percent of average as of Sunday, Feb. 10, according to data reported by U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Colorado Snow Survey Program.

Regional snowpack as of Feb. 10 showing the Yampa and White river basins at 1-6 percent above average.

Statewide, mountain snowpack improved from 94 percent of normal Jan. 1 to 105 percent of normal Feb. 1.

The result was attributed to “a consistent pattern of weather systems throughout much of January (that) brought snow to the state, particularly, storms during the 15th through 24th of January,” said Brian Domonko, snow survey supervisor.

The southern mountains have fared even better.

“Southern portions of the state currently show more than twice the snowpack present at this time last year, a stark contrast to last year’s shortage,” Domonkos said. “Double the snowpack of last year is a step in the right direction as reservoirs remain low.”

Precipitation in Northwest Colorado has been high for three of the past four months.

According to the most recent NRCS Water Supply Outlook report, “Water year 2019 got off to a great start with all major basins receiving above average precipitation in October. This ranged from a low of 109 percent of average in the combined Yampa, White, and North Platte basins to a high of 144 percent in the combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan basins of Southwest Colorado. November precipitation displayed notable differences between the northern and southern parts of the state. Northern Colorado continued to receive well above average precipitation …”

The most recent water storage data showed are reservoirs ended December above average.

December was not as strong, with precipitation falling to just above 60 percent of average before rising in January.

Streamflow forecasts Feb. 1 point to a much more positive runoff season than last year’s forecasts, however, with nearly one-third of the usual snow accumulation yet to fall, conditions may change.

“Overall, conditions are promising; snowpack is near normal and much better than last year, but January’s above-average precipitation will need to become a trend in the coming months to recover from last year,” Domonkos said.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.