Current Snowpack Situation
Updated: Feb 9, 2020
Wondering how the snowpack in the Southern San Juan Mountains stacks up to the last year and the historic norm?
January is usually the Southern San Juans' 3rd biggest snow month behind February and December. Typically, January has some extended dry spells which are punctuated by a few large storms that manage to deliver 6 inches of new water. This January, we had the typical dry spells, but they were interrupted by several anemic storms that under-delivered. As a result, the Upper San Juan SNOTEL site only received 2.9 inches of water during the month of January (48% of normal). Fortunately, our total snowpack remains just below normal as we draw upon our December reserves, which was 135% above normal.
Currently, there are19 inches of water frozen in the 57-inch snowpack. Surprisingly, we are still ahead of 2019, which brought one of the biggest snowpacks of the new millennium. Ironically, 2019 started off slowly, but snowfall cranked up dramatically in February and March (195% and 244% of normally respectively). In contrast, at this same time in 2018, (one of the worst drought years on record), the Upper San Juan only had 5.5 inches of water!
So far, February is off to a slow start, which is not unusual, but I'm struggling with snow envy since a monster storm just missed us and dumped over 40 inches of powder over the Park Range (east of Steamboat Springs). There is hope that a new storm system will target Wolf Creek Pass on Monday, but there's still uncertainty in the storm's track. As far as the rest of the snow season, anything is possible in the highly variable San Juans. But, while skiing last night, I did hear a great-horned owl a month earlier than I normally hear them. We'll see if this "wise" creature foretells of an early spring.