Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit
It's been an ongoing theme in Summit County and across Colorado for nearly a
year now: periods of daily precipitation follow extended dry spells, but can't
deliver enough moisture to alleviate extreme drought conditions.
snowfall has helped, experts say, but with Colorado snowpack still far behind
average and what is shaping up to be the second consecutive dry winter failing
to produce the needed moisture, western Colorado may be on its way to another
arid summer and dangerous fire season.
Snowpack in the Blue River Basin,
where shades of brown can still be seen at the top of peaks 9 and 10, is only at
59 percent of last year's total at this point in the year, and 42 percent of the
median snowpack for the area.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Drought Monitor
continues to place Summit County, and much of northwestern Colorado, in an
After a dismal January for snowfall delivered only 6
total inches in Breckenridge, compared to an average 23 inches, it is becoming
more likely that the winter season many hoped would pull Colorado out of one of
the worst droughts in a decade will fail to do so. Without a significant
increase in snowfall over the next several months, parts of the state may be on
track to see another difficult summer marked by a lack of water and high
Consecutive months of below-average snowpack
accumulation are statistically decreasing the possibility of reaching normal
conditions by April, a Feb. 1 Colorado State Basin outlook report from the
Natural Resources Conservation Service stated. Last year's below-average
snowpack did not offer any buffer to our current situation. … Water users in all
basins should start planning for below-average surface water supplies this
season. The potential for shortages this season is great.
drought was offset by healthy reservoir levels, with storage facilities across
the state nourished by above-average snowfall and high streamflows the year
But Dillon Reservoir is now only 66 percent full, far from its 90
percent normal for this time of year, according to data from Denver Water, the
utility company that owns the lake. Denver Water's total storage system is at
only 63 percent of total capacity, falling below levels recorded during the 2002
drought year, when the system dipped to 76 percent of capacity at the end of
Officials are now talking about mandatory water restrictions
It would mean that if we get to that point, we would have
mandatory restrictions for customers, specific days where they can water, Denver
Water spokesman Travis Thompson said, noting that the usual wet spring snowfall
could still head off the need for such restrictions. We're still hoping for
Drought conditions area also setting Summit County up for another
high-risk wildfire season, with an increasingly dry and flammable forest
dominated by beetle-killed timber.
What we're really looking at is the
fuels on the forest floor, said Dan Schroder, field agent for local Colorado
State University extension office. These fuels are incredibly dry. We also have
a standing timber of primarily dead lodgepole pine … so our trees and woods are
less able to resist fire.
Local officials continue to urge the public to
be water conscious and to take steps, including implementing defensible space,
to protect homes and properties from wildfire.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News