Yampa River basin bolstered by recent snowfall; Tower site lags behind

Steamboat Springs — A measuring site between downtown Steamboat Springs and the mountain has seen nearly 17 inches of snow this week as of 7 a.m. Wednesday.

The snow that continued throughout the day Wednesday served to further bolster the snowpack in the Yampa/White River Basin.

As of Wednesday, the basin stood at 86 percent of its average snowpack but was at 242 percent of last year, which was marked by low snowfall and early spring weather.

Wednesday represented the peak of this year’s snowpack. Last year’s peak for the Yampa/White basin was in early March. The average date for the peak is April 10.

The snow water equivalent at the Tower site on Buffalo Pass was 35.5 inches Wednesday or 75 percent of its median level. Snow-water equivalent is a measure of how much water is stored in the snowpack. Other sites in the Yampa/White River Basin registered snow-water equivalent levels as high as 134 percent of the median.

The Colorado Water Trust recently announced that it would lease water to keep Yampa River flows healthy throughout the summer as it did in 2012. The amount of water it leases depends on the state of the snowpack in the area.

Meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, of www.snowalarm.com, wrote in an email Wednesday that the main part of the storm had moved past Steamboat.

“While we normally experience another wave of snow as these storms depart, the mountain-top flow never really turns northwest till the storm is well east of us,” he wrote. “However, cool and moist northwest flow does eventually develop and continued light showers are expected Thursday and Friday before an organized wave passes through the area on Saturday noticeably increasing snowfall rates and likely producing another 6-12″ by the end of the day.”

Weissbluth wrote that the last wave for Steamboat should start Sunday but taper off by Tuesday. He predicted higher temperatures by Wednesday should mark the return of spring to the Yampa Valley, at least into the weekend.

Steamboat Today
Michael Schrantz
Original article