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Colorado continues to see above-average snowpack in 2019 amid snowy March

Snowpack impacted by changing weather trends
Posted at 1:33 PM, Mar 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-15 17:03:15-04

It’s been a wet winter in Colorado and the snowpack numbers and drought statistics have started to reflect that.

Snowpack is hovering around 143 percent of normal as of Thursday and every major river basin in the state has seen increases from the median peak numbers.

Below is an interactive graph comparing the median on Friday to the median peak between 1981 and 2010:


The Natural Resources Conservation Service broke down each river basin by smaller areas, and that data is available by clicking here.

The snowpack is having a large effect on Colorado’s drought numbers. The state had well-above precipitation numbers in February and an “adequate amount” as of March 12, according to the United States Drought Monitor.

As of Tuesday, 83 percent of the state was under some sort of drought. Of those areas, 6.26 percent were experiencing severe drought conditions and just 0.58 of the state was experiencing extreme drought conditions.

That showed significant improvements when compared to three months back. At that point, about the same percentage of the state was in a drought, but 54.92 percent was experiencing severe drought, 27.11 percent was seeing extreme drought conditions and 11.22 percent of the state was under exceptional drought conditions.

Tuesday’s numbers also showed that the state is faring better than it was a year ago, when 89.84 percent of the state was in a drought. At this time in 2018, 47.44 percent of the state was in severe drought and 13.44 was under extreme drought conditions.

While the heavy snow has built up the snowpack around the state and is benefiting ski resorts and farmers (and your lawn), it has also increased the threat of problematic avalanches.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is warning backcountry skiers and hikers that avalanche risk is moderate to considerable Friday. While this was an improvement from the high risk that was issued earlier this week, the CAIC is urging people to not let their guard down.

The blizzard that struck the state Wednesday brought strong north and northwesterly winds to the mountains, which created new slabs of snow anywhere from 1-3 feet in depth.
Those who stay at lower elevations should still be aware that avalanches could start above them, CAIC said. The trails and areas that are usually safe may not be so Friday into the weekend.

To learn the latest on avalanche information, maps and updates, visit CAIC’s website here.