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May 26 2011

Water, Water Everywhere

With all the flooding and severe weather occurring in the Midwest, there is another story unfolding throughout the West going unnoticed by much of the country.  As of the first of May a large part of the Western mountains have significant snow pack, and in some places record setting amounts. 

Western US Snowpack_2011 

During average years the peak snow water equivalent usually occurs in late April or early May.  This year a wet May has continued to add to the snow amounts.  For northern Colorado May as been wet and cold which has only increased the snowpack.  According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) who keep tabs on snowpack, the Water Supply Outlook Report states that new record snow water equivalent readings were measured at 46 sites on May 1 in northern Colorado.  The drainage basins producing these records include the Colorado, Yampa, North Platte, and Cache La Poudre.  At Cameron Pass (headwaters of the Poudre and North Platte), a new record snowpack was measured at 48 inches of water equivalent as of May 1, and is now over 50 inches.  This record exceeds any measurements since that site was established in 1936, making it one of the oldest snow courses in the state. 

Below is the most up to date graph of the Joe Wright site near Cameron Pass.

Joe Wright Snowpack_2011

Most flood events in the west are typically the result of intense thunderstorms.  So, while this may not lead to record flooding it will certainly be the largest runoff event many in this area have ever seen.  Stay tuned as we will definitely be providing some pictures and video of any interesting or significant hydraulic happenings.

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Clearing Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

1 comment

  1. Jeremy Franz

    The sustained high temperatures for Colorado this week could send all of the snowmelt down the rivers all at once. The Flood Protection Branch of the Colorado Water Conservation Board contracts with HDR to provide a twice weekly synoptic flooding forecast during the flood season in addition to other meteorologic information. For those interested, here is a link:

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