Storms boost snowpack

Buffalo Pass depth increases 51 inches in a week


— The Yampa Valley's outlook for spring runoff turned around in the span of three weeks as relentless snowstorms made up for a dry November.

Records kept by the Natural Resources Conservation Service show the water stored in the settled snow across the combined Yampa and White river drainages has rocketed since Dec. 24, from 84 percent of average to 111 percent of average.

"It's nice to get a reprieve," said Lori Jazwick, district conservationist at the Conservation Service office in Steamboat Springs.

Jazwick and colleague Vance Fulton will head for the hills later this month to begin confirming data gathered electronically at snow measuring sites in the mountains surrounding Steamboat.

The Rabbit Ears "SNOTEL" measuring site on the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass measures 64 inches of snow, according to the Conservation Service. That settled snow contains 19.2 inches of moisture, compared to the average 16.4 inches for this date. That translates to 117 percent of average. The Rabbit Ears site typically peaks on April 24, with 30.2 inches of stored water.

The snowpack Tower site at 10,500 feet on Buffalo Pass stood at 103 percent of average Monday. That converts to 21.8 inches of moisture. The Tower site typically does not peak until May 6 with 52.4 inches of water.

Longtime local weather observer Art Judson said his unofficial measuring stake on Buffalo Pass reflects a snow depth of 129 inches. The snow there has increased by 51 inches since Jan. 8, he said.

The Elk River snow measuring site is the leader on a percentage basis. The 13.1 inches of moisture stored in the accumulated snow there is 124 percent of average. Snow depth there is 50 inches. Snowpack at that site usually peaks April 8 with 20.1 inches of moisture.

- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205

or e-mail


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