Does The Early Snowpack Mean The Drought’s Over?
This season's mountain snowpack is already above normal.
The early weather predictions called for a "wetter than normal" winter season. An updated forecast from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center says there's still an 80% chance an El Nino will develop this winter. That usually means more participation for the western US. Regardless, the mountain snowfall totals are already way ahead of last year. According to Joseph Burtard of the Ute Water Conservancy District, "the district depends on two sites on the grand mesa that we monitor the snow...at this point, Mesa Lakes is at 125% of a ten year average and Park Reservoir being at 115% of a ten year average, so we're off the a great start."
It will take much more to officially call the drought over. The great start is awesome but last year was so dry it will take near-record amounts of snow to make up for last years lack of moisture. Scott Stearns from the National Weather Service says, "we're going to need not just normal, but above normal. I can't say exactly how much or anything, but certainly above normal precipitation to make up for the lack of precipitation we've had over the last year or longer."
The snowpack is looking great now. Let's hope the steady snowstorms continue to track across Colorado. It's too early to call the drought over yet but more of what the Grand Mesa and upper elevations have received so far could make is so. "Let it snow, let it snow, let is snow!"
Credit: Western Slope Now