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Colorado still has a snowpack (barely), and it's the latest we've seen that in years

Snowpack impacted by changing weather trends
Posted at 11:47 AM, Jul 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-11 17:04:23-04

DENVER – Colorado's snowpack is hanging on by a thread, but nearly two weeks into July, it's the latest we've seen it since 2011.

The statewide snowpack checked in at 0.2 inches as of Wednesday, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. That's the snow water equivalent – meaning, as the NRCS explains, the amount of water we'd see if all the remaining snow melted.

Those totals dropped steeply over the month of June, as temperatures rose. Even the late June snowstorm across the north-central mountains – which brought as much as a foot of snow in areas near Steamboat Springs – did little to boost the snowpack: It rose from 2.4 inches to 2.6 inches, before continuing to drop.

But it's still been one of the best seasons for snowpack in years. Last year's snowpack ended on June 10, and 2017's ended on June 22.

There was 2011 and 1995, when the snowpack lingered until a July 19, according to the NRCS. But only 1993, 1984 and 1997 have also seen snowpack on July 11 or later over the last 35 years. Check out that data for each year since 1984 on this interactive graph from the NRCS.

As the Denver Post reported, most of the remaining snowpack is in northern Colorado, through the Yampa, White, Colorado, Arkansas and North Platte River basins.

On June 1 this year, the statewide snowpack was 437% of normal, with highs peaking at 768% in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. At the same, the overall snowpack amount was already dropping, with the last noticeable boost coming from a snow in late May.

The snowpack this year helped Colorado to 100 percent drought-free conditions across the state and kept several ski resorts open into June – and, in the case of Arapahoe Basin, until July 4, for rare Independence Day skiing. As the snow began to melt, rivers across the state surged, with streamflows reaching 400% of normal this month.