Aspen Journalism is compiling a data dashboard highlighting metrics of local public interest, updated at least weekly by mid-day Tuesday.
Snowpack remains slightly above average for Ivanhoe and Schofield Pass
“Snowpack in the Roaring Fork Watershed is 112% of normal,” according to the Roaring Fork Conservancy’s snowpack report of March 24. “Stream flows and snow water equivalent at all SNOTEL sites within the watershed are similar to what we saw last week.”
SNOTEL sites that monitor snowfall throughout the winter measured the snowpack at Independence Pass at 85.3% of average on March 27, with a “snow water equivalent” (SWE) of 13.31 inches. The size of the snowpack relative to the 30-year average is the same as last week’s 85.3%. Last year on March 27, the SNOTEL station up the pass recorded an SWE of 14.02 inches.
The monitoring station at the lower-elevation McClure Pass recorded a SWE of 13.19 inches, or 80.9% of average, on March 27. A week before, the station reported 14.21 inches of water contained in the snowpack, or 88.3% of average. Last year, on that same day, the station measured a snowpack holding 13.11 inches of water, or 80.4% of average.
On the northeast side of the Roaring Fork Basin, snowpack at Ivanhoe contains higher water levels than the 1991-2020 average, with 14.88 inches on March 27, which is 102.6% of the average of 14.5 inches. It’s also up from last year’s 14.69 inches of SWE.
Snowpack at Schofield Pass reached 35.79 inches on March 27, which represents 109.8% of average. Schofield Pass sits at an elevation of 10,700 feet between Marble and Crested Butte.
Snow water equivalent — the metric used to track snowpack — is the amount of water contained within the snowpack, which will become our future water supply running in local rivers and streams.
Lake Powell’s water level is 1.5 feet below target elevation
Lake Powell‘s storage reached its lowest level recorded since it began filling in the 1960s and ’70s on March 27 when the reservoir was 24% of full.
Last week, on March 20, the reservoir was 24.21% of full. The reservoir’s capacity has fallen since last year, when on March 27, 2021, the reservoir was 36.58% of full.
The surface elevation of Lake Powell dipped below the target elevation of 3,525 feet on March 15. The reservoir hit a record low on March 27 when its elevation dropped to 3,523.5 feet, or 176.5 feet from full pool. The reservoir had lost about one foot since March 20, when the elevation was at 3,524.4 feet. Last year, on March 27, the reservoir reached 3,567.39 feet or 137.14 feet from full pool.
The “minimum power pool” for turbines generating hydropower at the Glen Canyon Dam is 3,490 feet, and 3,525 feet has been set as a buffer to ensure that the reservoir and the turbines can continue to function properly. Aspen Journalism recently published a story on the impact of last summer’s emergency releases designed to help Lake Powell.
Maximum air temperature getting back up as spring season kicks off
Temperatures increased from a high of 24°F on March 22, which is about 21 degrees below normal, to a high of 51°F on March 24, which is 5.5 degrees above normal, according to temperatures recorded at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. The minimum decreased from 31°F on March 20 to 13°F on March 23. As of March 24, the minimum remained 3.7 degrees below normal.
‘Good’ air quality recorded this past week in Aspen
The air quality in Aspen was “good” this past week. The AQI index ranged from 10 for PM2.5 on March 21 to 50 for ozone on March 20.
- Colorado’s Division of Water Resources
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District
- Aspen Global Change Institute