Water and Weather Update!

Last weekend’s storm brought welcome relief to the scant snowpack in the San Isabel region. The NRCS SNOTEL at the South Colony site in the Sangre de Cristo Range shows 1.9 inches of snow water equivalent, and about 2 feet of snow. Snow water equivalent measures the water content in the snow to give a more accurate assessment of snowpack. As most Coloradans know, the snow in April is much wetter and heavier than the snow in January. As such, the snow water equivalent in a foot of snow in April would probably be higher than a foot of snow in January.

 this view protected by

View from The Bluff Park in Westcliffe, CO. 2.25.15 --look close, it's a fox!

This last storm was fairly wet and increased the median snow water equivalent at South Colony from 61% to 73%. Other SNOTEL sites in the San Isabel region saw similar amounts (see the chart below). There is still a ways to go to get back to 100% but this certainly helps. We’re still short 4 inches of snow water which is probably the equivalent of 4 feet of snow. However, as Keith Hood, 5th generation Rancher and San Isabel board member, reminds us, “it is the spring snow that will really determine what the 2015 summer season will be”.

bear and snow

Bear enjoying the recent snow (and sun!)

Looking at the forecast for the week ahead, we could be in for some more snow, starting tomorrow night. Let’s hope we get it.

Here’s a chart of the records for the 4 SNOTEL sites in the San Isabel Region (as of 2/24/2015):

SNOTEL Site, and nearest town

Median Snow Water Equivalent for 2/24/15

Actual Snow Water Equivalent for 2/24/15

Snow Water Equivalent in last weekend storm

Percent of Median

Hayden Pass (Coaldale)

Incomplete records

10.3 inches

1.0 inches

Incomplete records

South Colony (Westcliffe)

14.3 inches

10.4 inches

1.9 inches


Medano Pass (Gardner)

5.2 inches

5.5 inches

1.3 inches


Ute Creek (Gardner)

10.4 inches

7.0 inches

1.8 inches


If you are interested in tracking precipitation levels yourself click here to visit the SNOTEL website.

mike and bear

Pictured here is Mike with his dog Bear enjoying the recent snows.

Mike Downey is the Land Protection Specialist and Colorado Open Lands Fellow for San Isabel Land Protection Trust. When Mike is not working on protecting important and productive ranches, forests, and waters in our region, he can sometimes be found predicting the weather and informing San Isabel staff as to whether or not they should wear layers!

Posted in Water & Weather


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