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Early snowpack totals up statewide

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By Stephen Knapp

Early snowpack surveys promise ample summer water supplies across most of Colorado.

According to a report released Thursday by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, statewide snowpack levels stand at 110 percent of average and 113 percent of last year’s Jan. 1 measurements. With snowmelt accounting for as much as 80 percent of the state’s surface water, adequate snowpack is essential.

From near-record low levels in the southern mountains last year, heavy December snows have left the Arkansas and Rio Grande basins at near-record highs, at about 140 percent of average, allaying fears of another dry year in southern Colorado. Those storms largely missed the northern mountains, leaving the Yampa and White river basins at about 85 percent of last year’s readings for the same date.

In central Colorado, the South Platte basin snowpack stands at about 93 percent of average, and about 73 percent of last year’s Jan. 1 totals.

Surveys show statewide reservoir storage at about 98 percent of average and 105 percent of last year’s Jan. 1 storage. Reservoir storage in the South Platte basin currently stands at 89 percent of historical averages, but at 105 percent of storage levels last year at this time. At present, below-average runoff is predicted for the South Platte basin.

By Jan. 1, the state has typically piled up about 40 percent of its maximum snow accumulation, which peaks in April.