Friday, January 4, 2013

Northwest Colorado's snowpack leads the way across the state

originally appeared on steamboat

The storms of late December have boosted statewide snowpack to between 70 percent and 85 percent of normal, and Northwest Colorado, where the combined Yampa and White river basins stand at 84 percent of average, is leading the way.

At Ripple Creek Pass in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area south of Steamboat Springs, the snowpack is 100 percent of average. Closer to Yampa, at Crosho Lake in South Routt County, the snowpack is 111 percent of average. On the west summit of Rabbit Ears Pass, the snow is 80 percent of average, and at Dry Lake, on the edge of Strawberry Park just outside Steamboat, it stands at 88 percent.

Although it was snowing lightly near the base of Steamboat Ski Area when dawn came Wednesday, the National Weather Service in Grand Junction was anticipating high pressure and sunshine to prevail with lower-than-usual temperatures this week.

The storm cycle has been broken under building high pressure, National Weather Service meteorologists wrote Wednesday afternoon. A highly amplified ridge (of high pressure) along the West Coast today (settles) in the Great Basin through Thursday night. This brings a light northeast flow aloft, sunny skies and milder temperatures to the mountain slopes. The valley bottoms will remain strongly capped (by an inversion) with well below normal temperatures.

Despite the inversion, the National Weather Service forecasts daily high temperatures in the 20s through Sunday.

Steamboat Ski Area’s report of a 43-inch base at midmountain still ranks it high among Colorado resorts, especially the larger destination resorts.

Aspen Mountain has a midmountain base of 24 inches, Copper stands at 27 inches and Vail reports 25 inches as its base. Breckenridge has a 32-inch base.

Powderhorn, on the Grand Mesa east of Grand Junction, has a 41-inch base, and Wolf Creek, on the southern edge of the San Juan Mountains, leads the pack with 46 inches at midmountain.