Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Reality Sets In

Our brief flirtation with winter is over and while the snow was greatly appreciated by skiers, it put only a small dent (if that) in the snowpack deficit that presently exists in the central Wasatch and elsewhere in the western U.S.

The latest snowpack snow-water equivalent analysis shows only a handful of basins presently sit above average.  These basins are located in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, as well as interior ranges near the Canadian border.  All basins in the upper Colorado and Great Basin are below average.
In the central Wasatch, Snowbird, Mill D North, and Thaynes Canyon are at 77–84% of average.  Although Mill D and Thaynes Canyon are thankfully above last year, Snowbird is pretty much neck-and-neck with it.

April 1st is not only April fools day, but typically an important date for anticipating the spring runoff.  It is close to the average time of peak snowpack at many locations in the west, although that peak is a bit later at upper elevation sites like Snowbird.

The forecasts through April 1st suggest that the snowpack in Utah and the adjoining upper Colorado Basin and Great Basin will slip further into the red.  It won't be bone dry as we may see some spring showers, but there's little hope of a big dump through the end of March.  A spring miracle is needed in April if we are to avoid a second consecutive year of meager runoff.

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