Aspen Journalism is compiling a data dashboard highlighting metrics of local public interest, updated weekly by mid-day Tuesday.
Most local streams reached new peaks this weekend
Most local stream gauges recorded a new peak over the past week.
The Crystal River above Avalanche Creek, near Redstone, flowed at 1,770 cfs, or about 139.4% of average, on June 12. That’s up from the peak of 1,650 cfs the river reached on May 19.
The Crystal River at the CPW Fish Hatchery bridge reached up to 2,100 cfs on June 12. That’s up from 1,580 cfs on June 6, and up from the May 19 peak when the river reached up to 2,030 cfs at the bridge.
The Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs was also flowing higher than mid-May as it ran at 9,600 cfs on Sunday — up from 9,260 cfs on May 19.
Streamflow of the Colorado River at Dotsero was also above the May peak of 4,670 cfs as the river reached 4,860 cfs on June 12.
Only the USGS gauge on the Roaring Fork River near Aspen at Stillwater, located upstream of town, measured streamflow lower than the May peak. The river ran at 240 cfs on June 12, which is 61.1% of average. The Fork ran as high as 249 cfs on June 11. On June 12, 2021, the river ran at 238 cfs. Seasonal peak flows on the Fork at Stillwater occurred on May 19, when it ran at 319 cfs.
Aspen Journalism recently published a story about river flows peaking early this year.
Lake Powell’s elevation has gained about two feet since last week
Lake Powell‘s storage remains at one of its lowest levels recorded since it began filling in the 1960s. However, the amount of water stored in the reservoir increased over the past month, as the annual runoff boosted river flows.
On June 12, the reservoir was 27.29% full. Last week, on June 5, it was 26.7% full. The reservoir’s capacity has fallen since last year, when on June 12, 2021, the reservoir was 34.53% of full.
The surface elevation of Lake Powell exceeded the target elevation of 3,525 feet on May 16, after dipping below it on March 15. On June 12, Lake Powell’s elevation reached 3,536.2 feet or 163.8 feet from full pool, up from 3,534 feet on June 5. Last year, on June 12 , the reservoir reached 3,561.7 feet, or 138.3 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.
Snowpack keeps disappearing in the Roaring Fork Basin
Snowpack in the Roaring Fork Basin was at around 7% of average on June 12, according to NOAA. It’s up from last week’s 4% of average due to recent warmer temperatures. It’s been below average since April 20, reaching that designation for the first time this season, the Roaring Fork Conservancy wrote on April 21.
SNOTEL sites that monitor snowfall throughout the winter measured the snowpack at Independence Pass at 29.5% of average on June 12, with a “snow water equivalent” (SWE) of 0.12 inches. Last year on June 12, the SNOTEL station up the pass (located at elevation 10,600 feet) recorded an SWE of 0 inches.
The monitoring station at McClure Pass recorded a SWE of 0.12 inches on June 12. Last year, on June 12, the station measured a snowpack holding 0 inches of water.
On the northeast side of the Roaring Fork Basin, snowpack at Ivanhoe is now gone with 0 inches on June 12.
Snowpack at Schofield Pass reached 0 inches on June 12. Schofield Pass’ snowpack has been below average for about a month. 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 quality was ‘good’ this past week in Aspen
The air quality in Aspen was “good” this past week besides June 12, when air quality was moderate and the AQI index for ozone reached 51. Jannette Whitcomb, Aspen senior environmental health specialist, wrote in an email that it is commonplace to see moderate AQI for ozone in Aspen in the spring. For the remainder of the week, the AQI index for ozone ranged from 46 on June 6 to 50 on June 8.
- Colorado’s Division of Water Resources
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District
- Aspen Global Change Institute