Current Routt County snowpack tracking similar to above-average 2019 snow year
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Several strong snow storms that have blanketed the Yampa Valley this season have made for a good snowpack.
The current snowpack of the Yampa and White River Basin, which encompasses Routt County, is currently 18% above average, according to data from the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
“My observations have been that this is tracking pretty similar to the 2019 snow year,” said Kelly Romero-Heaney, Steamboat Springs city water resources manager. Last year’s snowpack was mostly well above average in Routt County, though not quite record setting, she explained.
“But it’s also only mid-January,” she cautioned. “Checking snowpack in Colorado in January is kind of like checking your 401(k) in your 30s. There’s still a long way to go.”
A snow telemetry site maintained by the Conservation Service on Rabbit Ears, at an elevation of 9,400 feet, recorded a snow depth of 37 inches, according to Jan. 1 measurements. That site typically reaches peak April 28 then melts off. As of Saturday, Jan. 18, there are 13.3 inches of snow water equivalent, a measure that considers the amount of water contained in the snowpack.
At the Bear River telemetry site, at 9,080 feet elevation south of the town of Yampa in the Flat Tops area, the snow depth was recorded at 22 inches, with 5.1 inches of snow water equivalent.
Snow depth at the Tower telemetry site, which is at 10,500 feet elevation on Buffalo Pass, was 56 inches as of Jan. 1, with 24.5 inches of snow water equivalent.
So far this season, Steamboat Resort has received 196 inches of total snowfall. That’s more than the 152 inches recorded to this date last year and 109 in 2018, which was a tough season for snowpack.
Midmountain snow depth at Steamboat Resort stands at 49 inches as of Saturday, with 66 inches on the upper mountain and 50 inches at the base, according to the website onthesnow.com, which records snow data for ski resorts.
Considering snowpack data from 1986 to present, the median peak of snowpack in the Yampa and White River Basin is 22.9 inches of snow water equivalent. Year-to-date precipitation is currently at 96% of average for the overall basin.
Though not too much can be inferred regarding future runoff from a mid-January snowpack reading, “it’s still good to have a good start,” Romero-Heaney said.
To reach Bryce Martin, call 970-871-4206 or email bmartin@SteamboatPilot.com.
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