As Colorado battles statewide drought conditions, last weekend’s massive snowstorm brought a welcome boost to snowfall levels and water supplies.
The storm dropped 19.7 inches of snow on Denver and 27.1 inches at the airport, according to the National Weather Service.
Other parts of the state were hit even harder, with more than 40 inches in Aspen Springs, Buckhorn Mountain, Four Corners in Larimer County and Pingree Park.
“Snowfall is mostly near to above normal now,” NWS said in a statement. “The recent snowstorm also increased the north-central Colorado snowpack, especially east of the Continental Divide.”
Before the snowstorm, Denver’s snowfall total for the season was 32.7 inches, below the 38.8-inch average, according to NWS data.
As of Monday, Denver’s snowfall total is now at 59.8 inches, 1.54 times normal rates for this time of year.
However, on the Plains, the impact of the storm is more mixed.
Only Lindon and Woodrow were brought from below to above normal snowfall. Akron, Briggsdale and Crook were already above normal rates, and Holyoke, Leroy and Sedgwick remain below normal.
Similarly, though the snowfall gave a much-needed boost to mountain snowpack, Colorado’s snow water is still falling short compared to previous years.
Even including the weekend’s storm, Denver Water’s collection system is below average for snowpack in the upper Colorado River Basin, North Platte Basin and South Platte Basin at 88%, 96% and 97% respectively, according to NWS data.
Hartman said the snowfall recharged soil moisture across the Denver metro area and was helpful in replenishing the Gross, Marston, Chatfield and Ralston reservoirs.
According to NWS data, snowfall at Gross Reservoir is still at only 77% of normal rates, but the storm did add 12 inches of snowfall.
The snow was also unusually high in moisture content, which helped deliver one to two months of water to some areas of Colorado, Hartman said.
Denver has recorded 4.24 inches of liquid this year, making it the city’s wettest start to a calendar year on record.
Since Colorado is still recovering from a very dry spring and summer, the melting snow will have to replenish dry soil before being able to flow into streams, rivers and reservoirs.
Denver Water suggests residents stay vigilant and continue irrigation and water conservation efforts.
Denver Water’s summer watering rules take effect on May 1, limiting watering to three days a week and no watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Further limits may be implemented depending on temperatures and snow/rain fall in the coming weeks.