If you think Colorado’s snow seems to be disappearing faster than normal this year, you’re not wrong.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Colorado’s current snowpack is at just 43 percent of where the snowpack was this time last year and 64 percent of the average for this date, despite reaching a peak snowpack at 103 percent of the norm this season. This low snowpack is due to warm temperatures and a dry spring, which has resulted in a faster melt and less snow. According to the Denver Post, half of Colorado’s snowpack was lost in just two weeks.
One spot that’s particularly dry is the Upper Rio Grande Basin, which is at 25 percent of the median snow water equivalent as of May 13. This includes spots like Medano Pass, Wolf Creek Summit, and Hayden Pass. The Arkansas River Basin is also lacking quite a bit of snow – currently at 59 percent of the median snow water equivalent on May 13. The Arkansas River Basin includes areas like Saint Elmo, Glen Cove, and Fremont Pass.
This lack of snowpack will likely contribute to an increased level of drought and fire risk this summer.
While things do seem quite dry right now around the state, the 2018 snowpack was worse, as seen by the yellow line in the graph below.
Here’s a look at how the statewide snowpack stacks up against other years: