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Colorado Weather: Peak Snowpack Is A Week Away And The Mountains Need More Snow

DENVER (CBS4) - With the average date for peak mountain snowpack just a week away, only two of Colorado's eight river basins are at or above normal. March was not as snowy in the mountains as it needed to be after a unusually dry January and February. Luckily there will be several chances for more snow in the next week.

As of Thursday morning, statewide snowpack was 8% lower than normal for the final day of March. That is largely because of the basins that include the northwest mountains around Steamboat Springs, Walden, Craig, and Meeker as well as the southwest mountains around Telluride and Durango.

(source: CBS)

The Yampa Basin is in the worst shape with snowpack measuring only 83% compared to normal through the end of March.

Ideally all eight river basins in Colorado would be at least 100% of average by the first week in April. The average date for maximum snowpack is April 8. After that date, the combination of a higher sun angle, longer days, and generally warmer temperatures means the snowpack starts to gradually disappear regardless of how many spring storms bring additional snow.

The next spring storm to hit the high country arrives late Thursday. About 1-3 inches of snow is expected mostly above 10,000 feet Thursday night into early Friday morning.

(source: CBS)

That's not enough snow to significantly change the snowpack numbers, but additional snow is expected on Sunday and into early next week which may somewhat help.

Snowpack is critically important for Colorado and all western states because once it melts, it becomes the water supply for tens of millions of people. It feeds virtually every river, stream, and lake in the state and helps controls the severity of everything from wildfire danger to pine beetle infestation each year.

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