DENVER (CBS4) – The Front Range blizzard not only dropped over a month’s worth of snow in Denver, it put our local snowpack in a great position as we head into the warmer months. As of March 28, the South Platte River basin has 107 percent of average snowpack — more than we normally have for this time of the year.
All watersheds in Northern Colorado are in good shape. The North Platte is the highest with 108 percent of average, the Yampa and White River basin have 102 percent, and the Colorado River remains at a strong 105 percent.
Southern Colorado hasn’t benefited from as much snowfall recently and is due for a storm. The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan River basins have fallen to 81 percent. There should be some relief coming to the southwest this week with mountain snow in the forecast.
Earlier this month, snowmelt was accelerated by a stretch of warm and dry conditions.
Since the weather has become more active, we’ve reversed this trend in the South Platte basin and snowpack is now moving in the right direction. Looking at the graph, notice how the purple line is now on the left side of the red line — this means the amount of snow on the ground is greater than average. The surrounding lines represent previous years’ moisture and how they compare to a typical season. The yellow line is from the year 2014 when the South Platte had over 120 percent of average snow.
Last week’s storm broke Denver’s snowfall record for March 23 — Denver International Airport measured 13.1 inches. The snow that fell was particularly heavy and wet. In Boulder, the snow reached a 7 to 1 ratio. In other words, 7 parts snow to 1 part water — just about as moisture-packed as we see in Colorado.
If you had to shovel the driveway, it may as well have been cement.
April is a month where we can have either severe weather or winter snowstorms. Denver’s fifth biggest snowfall in history happened on April 23, 1885 when 23 inches piled up downtown.
The long-term climate forecast leans towards a wetter-than-average April.
Justin McHeffey provides nightly reports from the Mobile Weather Lab. He travels Colorado in search of Mother Nature’s most powerful and beautiful conditions. Like his Facebook page Meteorologist Justin McHeffey and follow him on Twitter @WeatherMcHeffey.