© 2022 Aspen Public Radio
APR20_webHeader_FallVersion9-08-2020 copy
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
The environment desk at Aspen Public Radio covers issues in the Roaring Fork Valley and throughout the state of Colorado including water use and quality, impact of recreation, population growth and oil and gas development. APR’s Environment Reporter is Elizabeth Stewart-Severy.

Snowpack, Good - Cold Temps, Better

Photo by Elise Thatcher

Most residents in the Roaring Fork Valley probably won’t be surprised to hear

there’s more snow in the mountains. Drought conditions are in the area again this year... but while the snow is helping... it’s cold temperatures that are making the biggest difference.

Wendy Ryan is with the Colorado Climate Center. She says the snowpack in the Roaring Fork Valley is at 87% of what’s normal.

"It’s way better than we had been just a few weeks ago, so April has brought us some really good moisture, mainly along the northern tier of the state."

That’s usually measured on April 8th, but this year... with all the recent storms.. the tally refers to Wednesday, April 24th. More snow means better supplies in mountain reservoirs, which provide water for West Slope and Front Range communities. But that 87% isn’t enough to keep the area from another dry year. The Roaring Fork Valley is still in a drought... just like the rest of the state.

“Our extremely warm summer season last year was hard hitting for soil moisture supplies across the state. So even when the snowpack melts this year, we’re going to have one heck of soil profile to fill up before any of that water even reaches the stream. It just leaves uncertain how much of that water’s going to be available to us.”

What has been a big help is the wintery weather this month.

“So the cooler temperatures have not only kept the snow pack in the mountains, but they’ve kept water demand down,  East of the divide and West of the Divide. So People in Denver and Fort Collins aren’t watering their lawns yet because it’s too cold to turn their water sprinklers on.”

Even though Ryan says she knows the weather is prompting some frustration.

“As much as people are ready for summer time, don’t complain about the cold temperatures just yet."

And Ryan says cold is a good thing to have... compared to last year’s high temperatures in the spring.

Related Content