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Here's two articles from today's Summit Daily News covering the snow pack in Colorado. Ullr where are you????

SUMMIT COUNTY Conditions might be dry, but local weather watchers say it isn’t time to panic.

“We’re about 26 percent below average for precipitation for the season, and about 52 percent below average for snow for the season,” said Dillon Reservoir caretaker Ron McGow. “It’s not looking good. We’re about 6 inches below what we usually have on snow (in January).”

“Overall, we’re 73 percent of average (snowfall),” said Rick Bly, a Breckenridge resident who records weather data for the National Weather Service. “But since the first of December, I don’t think we’ve had 10 days above freezing, so whatever snow has fallen tends to have stayed.”

Friday night’s storm added between 1 and 6 inches to local resort bases, but the snowpack nevertheless remains well below average.

Snowpack at the Copper Mountain recording station stands at 76 percent of average for this time of year, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. At Hoosier Pass near Breckenridge, it measures 59 percent of average. Throughout the Upper Colorado River Basin — which includes Summit County — snowpack measures about 66 percent of average.

The Western Slope looks positively snowbound compared to other parts of the state. It’s far drier in southern and eastern Colorado, where snowpack weighs in at roughly half its normal amount.

But Bly and McGow agree there’s still plenty of winter left in which to make up the precipitation deficit.

March is traditionally Summit County’s heaviest snow month, followed by April.

“The record for March is 120 inches,” Bly said. “The snow we’re getting doesn’t have much precipitation in it. In March, snows are really wet and heavy.

“And I can remember when we got 5 feet of snow in 10 days in April. We’ve gotten 43 inches in May and we had one year when we got 16 inches in June. We do have a ways to go.”

Nevertheless, Bly isn’t surprised by this weather pattern. He says he saw it coming last fall.

“When we have a really dry October, 75 percent of the time we have a really dry season,” he said.

SUMMIT COUNTY — They know it’s bad, but they know they can’t do anything about it, so they’re not going to let it stress them.

Snowpack levels in river basins around the state are all far below average. The low levels will mean a tough summer for those who depend on stream flows if spring storms don’t improve conditions. But, not everyone in the summer recreation industry is quite worried yet. In fact, some are downright optimistic.

“The snow is falling and the water is going to great this summer,” exclaims the voice on the answer machine of Frisco’s Kodi Rafting.

Others, like Cutthroat Anglers’ Barry Kirkpatrick, are a little more in touch with reality: “We’re hoping and praying. We want a banner snow year in the worst way. But we’re not panicking yet.”

The Blue River basin is in the best shape of any surrounding Summit County. As of Saturday, the Blue’s snowpack was at 75 percent of average. From there, it gets worse: the Upper Colorado’s snowpack is 71 percent of average, the Upper Arkansas is at 66 percent; the basin in the worst shape is the Upper Rio Grande, at 39 percent of average.

Colorado needs a foot of snow every week for the next 11 weeks in each one of the river basins to catch up to average snowpack levels, according to Mike Gillespie at the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

While scientists like Gillespie are already sounding the alarm, Bob Barnes said he isn’t worried. The operator of Keystone Rafting, Barnes said he’s still in “full-on winter mode” teaching skiing at Copper Mountain. He said he recognizes the reality of the low snowpack levels, but hasn’t paid much attention to the numbers.

“We’re also fortunate in that we do a lot of our rafting on the Arkansas,” Barnes said. “The Arkansas is a controlled river and we (many rafting companies) buy water so that it’s released when we need it during the season. It may not be high water, but it stretches out the season.”

Kirkpatrick said low snowpack levels pose double threats for flyfishing guides: Low stream flows are bad, but so are sudden changes in temperature, which can stress fish, and the timing of spring runoff, which has a scouring effect on the river. Kirkpatrick said he’s counting on March and April — typically Colorado’s biggest snow months — to allay his fears about the upcoming summer.

“We suffered last spring from low water, too,” Kirkpatrick said. “The frustrating thing is we can’t do anything about it. But, we have a long ways to go.”


PS: The Bob Barnes in the second article is our Barking Bob.