March Snowfall Trends
Updated: Apr 26, 2020
After a near record-setting February, March is off to a great start, and more storms are on the way! Snow conditions are polar opposite than last year. Currently at the Upper Upper San Juan SNOTEL site, there is 32.8 inches water stored in the 113-inch snowpack, which is 2.5 times more water than we had last year at this time. Normally at this time, there is 27.2 inches of water, which means we have 5.6 inches more water in the snowpack than normal. More impressively, we've reached our annual peak more than a month ahead of normal!
The 2019 water year started out slowly, but January, February, and March have more than made up for the slow start. Most notably, we received nearly twice as much water in February than normal (over a foot of water). And 9 days into March, we've already eclipsed the median snow accumulation for the entire month of March.
In my last post, I compared the 2019 maximum snow depth to maximum snow depths since 1998. Since so much snow fell all at once, we nearly set a snow depth record (3rd to only 2005 and 2008). But in terms of March 1st snow water equivalent, 2019 isn't that exceptional.
Lastly, I was curious what we could expect for the month of March based upon the recent past. Historically, March used to be one of our biggest snowfall months, but over the last 20 years, we've gradually reached the point where more snow is melting in March than accumulating. In fact, the lack of and/or melting of the snowpack in March accounts for the bulk of our snow-water deficit over the past 20 years.
Hopefully, 2019 will mark the beginning of a trend reversal and we'll begin recharging the soil and groundwater as well as the reservoirs of the Southwest!