Dry February, but still higher-than-normal snow
Mar 09, 2011 | 1837 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print

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Despite a dryer-than-normal February which followed a dry January, San Juan County enters the critical late winter season with a higher-than-normal snowpack in area mountains.

The 16.2 inches of water in the snow pack at Camp Jackson is 117 percent of normal. The Camp Jackson reporting station is at 8,968 feet above sea level in the Abajo Mountains west of Monticello and north of Blanding.

The 10.4 inches of water in the snow pack in the La Sal mountains is slightly less than normal levels, at 94 percent. The La Sal reporting station is at 9,560 feet above sea level north of the community of La Sal.

As a whole, the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) says that the snow pack in southeastern Utah is 124 percent of normal.

Snow in area mountains continues to build through the winter until it reaches an apex in late March or early April. The amount of water in the snow pack is critical for the upcoming growing season. The snow melts and fills area reservoirs, providing water for the dry summer months.

Although the precipitation totals are close to normal, the winter of 2010-11 has been anything but normal. An unusual December storm injected an extensive amount of moisture deep into the soil before the hard freeze of winter, and storms during the holiday season provided ground cover that can help avoid wind damage.

Monticello has received a little less than three feet of snow thus far this winter, compared to an average of four feet. In contrast, at this time last year, Monticello had received nearly ten feet of snow and would receive another four feet before winter broke.

The NRCS estimates that reservoirs in southeast Utah currently are at 55 percent of capacity. This is slightly higher than the amount of water in storage last year at this time.

At 3,614 feet elevation, Lake Powell is currently at 54 percent of capacity. At this time in 2010, the elevation of Lake Powell was 3,620 feet.
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