Snowpack inching up

Recent storms help bump average up 33 percent

The nearly two inches of rain Montezuma County received from Jan. 25-28 had a positive impact on the high country snowpack, a local meteorologist is reporting.

Meteorologist Jim Andrus said before the rain, the snowpack for the region stood at about 50 percent of average for this time of year. After the rainfall, the snowpack stood at 83 percent of the average.

While rain fell around the county, snow was falling in the higher elevations.

"The amount of rain we had at the end of that weekend helped a lot," Andrus said. "We had a ton of rain last weekend."

On Saturday, Jan. 26 Cortez received 1.19 inches of rain and the liquid amount of moisture from both rain and snow added another .69 inches of precipitation for a combined total of 1.88 inches over the three days.

"It's a little short of average, and we could probably use one more (storm)," he said. "Certainly, right now we are in much better shape with the snowpack amount than we were in January."

He said the 50 percent of average snowpack in the middle of January was concerning, and added there could still be some problems as spring approaches.

"Fifty percent is not a good figure at all, and that was a concern," he said. He said the 83 percent of average, while not ideal, would not create the same dire circumstances.

The big factor for snowpack is the spring weather. If it's a warm spring with rain and high winds, the snow would evaporate and the major drought concerns would return.

Andrus said the recent cold spell that gripped Cortez with sub-zero temperatures was good but the very cold weather is likely over for the winter.

This week's forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-40s with lots of sunshine. Normal high temperatures for this time of year is 45 degrees, which is what was recorded last Thursday.

No snow is forecast for the week, and the best possible chance for precipitation is either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

michaelm@cortezjournal.com