|4/25/2013||Spring storm this weeks helps boost SNOTEL numbers|
Every time white flakes fall from the sky the SNOTEL readings at the South Colony site southwest of Westcliffe and in the Arkansas River Basin go up, which means more potential runoff that provides water for Valley ranchers and other downstream users.
Over the last few years, the South Colony SNOTEL readings have been below normal so this week’s wet spring snowstorm was a welcome sight to most.
SNOTEL measures snow/water equivalent, snow depth and precipitation. The South Colony SNOTEL site is at an elevation of 10,800 feet.
Snow/water equivalent is the depth of water in the snowpack if the snowpack was melted and measured in inches. This week’s snow/water equivalent is 15 inches or 71 percent of average. The average for this time of year is typically 21.1 inches. The current Arkansas River basin-wide snow/water equivalent is 80 percent of average.
The snow/water equivalent is what many Valley ranchers keep their eye on because that tells them how much water storage is in the mountains. That storage becomes water for irrigation.
Snow depth is a measurement of how much snow there is. The current snow depth reading at the South Colony site is 30 inches. No data is kept for average snow depth.
The precipitation measurement is yearly snow, rain, hail and sleet. This week’s year-to-date precipitation is 18.8 inches or 79 percent of average. The average for this time of year is 23.9 inches.
The basin-wide year-to-date precipitation is currently 72 percent of average for the Arkansas River Basin, while the snowpack stands at 79 percent of average.
Statewide, snowpack levels are at 90 percent of average, based on the following averages for the state’s eight river basins: Upper Rio Grande 70 percent; San Miguel/Dolores/Animas/San Juan, 71 percent; Arkansas 79 percent; Gunnison, 88 percent; South Platte 88 percent; White/Yampa 98 percent; North Platte 102 percent; and Colorado, 103 percent.
– Nora Drenner
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