Cottonwood Pass

Casey Kelly shot this photograph of the guard rail near the top of Cottonwood Pass on CR 306 Feb. 6 while on assignment. Snowcat operator Dirk Peratt, who grooms trails for the town’s local chapter of the Colorado Snowmobile Association, the Buena Vista Snow Drifters, reports that snow is typically about 20 feet deep at this spot near the pass this time of year.

Arkansas River basin snowpack ended January at 63 percent of average, second lowest among Colorado river basins.  

Only the South Platte basin recorded a lower snowpack percentage, 54 percent, according to data compiled by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Despite below-average snowpack, NRCS data show Arkansas basin snowpack increased from 61 percent the previous month.

Statewide snowpack continues to track below the long-term average, said state conservationist Phyllis Ann Philipps. As of Feb. 1, statewide snowpack was at 72 percent of normal and 90 percent of readings from a year ago.

The southwest portion of the state benefited the most from late January storms. 

The greatest increase, from 70 percent of average Jan. 1 to 88 percent Feb. 1, occurred in the combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins.

Rio Grande basin snowpack jumped 13 percentage points during January to 78 percent of normal.

This latest NRCS snowpack data provides an indication of likely spring and summer water supplies.

Streamflow forecasts based on these data suggest well-below-normal runoff in all the major river basins in Colorado.

Adding to the bleak water supply outlook, reservoir storage remains below average across the state, according to the NRCS report.

“Unless Colorado sees weather patterns that bring above-average snowfall and precipitation to the state over these next few months, it is not likely that there will be much relief from the current drought conditions,” the report concludes.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.