Aspen Journalism is compiling a data dashboard highlighting metrics of local public interest, updated weekly.

Snowpack at McClure Pass roughly 150% of average

Snowpack in the Roaring Fork basin reached 126% of average for Jan. 8 with 9.7 inches of snow-water equivalent, according to NOAA. Recent snowfall has increased the basin snowpack by 43% in the past two weeks.

SNOTEL sites that monitor snowfall throughout the winter measured the snowpack at Independence Pass at 94.9% of average on Jan. 8, with a “snow water equivalent” (SWE) of 7.4 inches, up from 6.81 inches on Jan. 8. Last year on Jan. 8, the SNOTEL station up the pass (located at elevation 10,600 feet) recorded an SWE of 8.58 inches, or 110% of average.

The monitoring station at McClure Pass located at elevation 9,500 feet recorded a SWE of 11.18 inches on Jan. 8, or 149.1% of average. That’s up from a SWE of 9.09 inches on Jan. 1. Last year, on Jan. 8, the station also measured a snowpack holding 8.39 inches of water.

On the northeast side of the Roaring Fork Basin, snowpack at Ivanhoe, which sits at an elevation of 10,400 feet, reached 8.5 inches on Jan. 8, or 123.2% of average.

Snowpack at Schofield Pass reached 18.11 inches on Jan. 8, which represents 123.2% 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.

Air temperatures have been swinging over the past two weeks

High air temperatures at the Aspen airport dropped from 41°F on Jan. 1 to 24°F on Jan. 4, which is about 12 degrees below normal. Meanwhile, low temperatures increased from 1°F on Dec. 30 to 33°F on Jan. 1 before going down to 1°F on Jan. 5, which about five degrees below normal.

Lake Powell’s elevation dips farther below critical level

Lake Powell‘s storage remains at one of its lowest levels recorded since it began filling in the 1960s. On Jan. 8, the reservoir was 22.71% full (with a total capacity based on a 1986 sedimentation survey) or 23.69% full (based on updated 2017-18 sedimentation data). That’s down from Jan. 1, when the nation’s second-largest reservoir was at 22.74% of capacity (1986 data) or 23.72% (based on 2017-18 data).

On July 1, the Bureau of Reclamation revised its data on the amount of water stored in Lake Powell, with a new, lower tally taking into account a 4% drop in the reservoir’s total available capacity between 1986 and 2018 due to sedimentation. Aspen Journalism in July published a story explaining the that drop in storage due to sedimentation.

The reservoir’s capacity has fallen since last year, when on Jan. 8, 2022, it was 27.18% full (based on 1986 data).

On Jan. 8, Lake Powell’s elevation reached 3,524.6 feet, or 175.4 feet from full pool, down from 3,524.8 feet on Jan. 1. The reservoir’s water level on Jan. 8 was 0.4 feet below the target elevation of 3,525. Powell’s surface elevation peaked at 3,539.84 feet on July 3, after it dipped to its lowest level since filling of 3,522.24 on April 22. Last year, on Jan. 8, the reservoir reached 3,565.78 feet in elevation, or 164.22 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.

Clean air reported in Aspen

The air quality in Aspen was “good” last week with an AQI index for ozone ranging from 36 on Jan. 3 to 41 on Jan. 8.

Avatar photo

Laurine Lassalle

Laurine Lassalle is Aspen Journalism’s data desk editor, where she works to catalogue and analyze local public data. She also heads our our “Tracking the Curve” project, documenting COVID-19 in Pitkin,...