According to NOAA’s drought monitor (https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/), almost no place in the US is currently in drought, which, if you follow these things, is pretty amazing.
But here in Colorado, we have been really wet. How wet? Take a look at this:
100% of Normal would be an average year — we are getting all the snow we normally do. So when it says that the San Juan Mountains are at 728% of normal that means they have over SEVEN TIMES as much snow as they normally do.
In Colorado, we tend to like the extra snow in the mountains; we view it as a bank account we can draw on — more is better.
In mountains where snow builds up — any snowy mountains — there is a unique form of water storage. It is the snow itself, and it is called snow pack. Here in Colorado, we rely on the delayed release of water from snow pack melt to slowly recharge the resevoirs into early summer.
June 14 2015. Fall River Cirque, Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park.
Above is what snow pack in the alpine tundra looks like. This photo was taken three years ago on one of my favorite places in the world, Trail Ridge Road, in Rocky Mountain National Park. The snow pack actually isn’t deepest in the alpine; that honor goes to the spruce-fir forest, the highest forest that can grow in the Colorado Rockies. And on this drive, there was a lot of snow in the spruce-fir forest. It’s just easier to see the snow without the trees.
May 30, 2018. Mount Evans looking south to South Park.
We’ve been hearing this winter and spring that it has been dry in the high country — little snow pack has built up. Last week I went up to Mount Evans, west of Denver, to see for myself. Above is the snow pack — or lack of — in the Front Range. As I drove up, there was no snow in the spruce-fir forest. None. At all.
I realize that the comparison isn’t exact — Mount Evans is 50 miles south of Rocky Mountain National Park.
But I went up to Mount Evans two weeks earlier than I did Trail Ridge. There should have been more snow up there. A lot more snow.