Snowpack inches toward average at measuring sites surrounding Steamboat Springs |

Snowpack inches toward average at measuring sites surrounding Steamboat Springs

— Water contained in the mountain snow in Northwest Colorado inched closer to average levels after the most recent storm rolled through the Yampa Valley.

On Friday, the snowpack in the Yampa/White river basin measured 87 percent of average. That is two percentage points higher than it was Thursday, and the mountains surrounding Steamboat Springs continue to lead the state in snowpack. Experts said the trend needs to continue if the state expects to recover from drought.

"The improvement continues," said Nolan Doesken, state climatologist with the Colorado Climate Center. "The whole state has been improving, and the timing couldn't be better. The people that are visiting Steamboat for the holidays are seeing the classic Steamboat."

Less than three weeks ago, Doesken noted that the snowpack for the Yampa/White river basin was 47 percent of average.

The average snowpack for the Yampa/White river basin is determined with measurements from about 20 automated measuring sites, Doesken said. One of those sites is the Tower measuring station on Buffalo Pass just northeast of Steamboat.

On Friday, the Tower site was measuring 66 inches of snow that held 12.4 inches of water. The historical average snow-water equivalent for Dec. 28 is 18.3 inches, which means the snowpack at the Tower site is about 68 percent of average.

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On Rabbit Ears Pass, the snow was holding the equivalent of 6.8 inches of water, which is 79 percent of average.

Crosho Lake south of Yampa was at 114 percent of average, and Whiskey Park in far North Routt County was at 97 percent of average Friday.

Doesken said continued consistent snow is needed to bring the snowpack levels closer to average.

"Any day that it doesn't snow, you are falling behind again," Doesken said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email