Snowpack 150% of expected level
The local snowpack got a boost from the early snows this season. The watershed that feeds the Mancos, Dolores, Animas other area rivers was 150 percent of the expected level of snow Dec. 9, based on historical measurements, according to data collected by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Last year at this time the area was at 35 percent of the expected level.
The NRCS district conservationist Joel Lee said the data is based on an average of snow weights collected at stations located throughout the mountains. Lee said that while this data is positive, many different weather patterns could change the current outlook.
“Early in the season, it’s really variable,” he said.
March is when the snowpack levels become critical.
But he said it is encouraging because last year was one of the driest years on record, and it can take several wet winters to make up for a dry one.
“Right now if we had another dry year, we would be in really bad shape,” Lee said.
Wally Patcheck the water commissioner for the Mancos River Basin said high winds can dry out the snow and warm weather can melt the snow before the spring. He also said particularly low temperatures can lower the water content in the snow before it reaches the ground.
But he said the current snow levels are good news.
“It’s unusual to be ahead of the game,” he said.