Rabbit Ears snowpack nudges 70 percent | SteamboatToday.com

Rabbit Ears snowpack nudges 70 percent

Christine Shook checks the snowpack on the Butterhill Snow Course in Northern Routt County in this file photo.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Some mountain drainages in Colorado are flirting with all-time low snowpack, but things aren't that grim on the broad-shouldered peaks of the Park Range that dominate views from Steamboat Springs.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service, which monitors the moisture stored in the snow at remote measuring sites across the mountainous West, reported Tuesday that the 69 inches of standing snow at a measuring site at 9,400 feet elevation on the west side of Rabbit Ears Pass contained 16.3 inches of water, representing 69 percent of the median snowpack — water content of the snow — measurement for the date.

As of March 6, snow survey supervisor Brian Domonkos said it would take 200 percent of normal snowfall through the end of April to make up Colorado’s deficit in snow moisture, and on Monday, March 26, he confirmed to the Denver Post that wasn't in the cards.

The die is set, and Colorado will see below-average streamflows this summer.

The Conservation Service also reports that in South Routt County, on the headwaters of the Yampa River at the Bear River measuring site, the snow wasn't nearly as deep as on Rabbit Ears, but the 9.6 inches of water stored in the 33 inches of snow was 103 percent of median.

In North Routt, there is a significant gap between two snow-measuring sites just a few miles apart on opposite sides of the Continental Divide.

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At the Lost Dog site, at 9,320 feet, on the west side of the Continental Divide, the 73 inches of snow on the ground contained 52 percent of median snowpack. At the Zirkel measuring site at 9,340 elevation on the east side of the Divide, the 60 inches of snow represented 101 percent of median.

Those numbers are rosy compared to the Southern Colorado Rockies, where the snowpack in the Upper Rio Grand Basin is 53 percent of median in the combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan river basins is just 54 percent of median.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

Where’s the snowpack?

On the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass, 20 miles from Steamboat,  there is a snow measuring site called Columbine that checked in this week with 95 percent of median snowpack while most of the sites in the vicinity are 15 to 20 precent lower.

Columbine, named after a small lodge that no longer exists, not to be confused with the historic mining hamlet in North Routt, has benefitted from storms that have favored  the east side of the Park Range this winter. Measuring sites across North Park in the vicinity of Cameron Pass, have also seen more snow – the “Never Summer” site has stored 96 percent of median snowpack.