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Mountain snowpack 'looking promising' after holiday storms

SNOTEL snow water equivalent as a percentage of normal on Jan. 3.
USDA/NRCS National Water and Climate Center
SNOTEL snow water equivalent as a percentage of normal. Data published Jan. 3.

The drought-stricken West breathed a sigh of relief over the holidays as much-needed snow fell across the region. Snowpack levels are now hovering above average from the Rockies to the Sierra Nevadas, according to the National Weather and Climate Center.

“Right now things are looking promising,” said Cody Moser, senior hydrologist for the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center.

He says the recent snow is a huge help for a region suffering from a severe and prolonged drought.

“The last three weeks of December were very good in terms of bringing above-average precipitation and snow,” he said.

More snow and rain is expected in the coming weeks. If snowpack levels remain high into the spring, it’ll be great news for the parched Colorado River system and its two main reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, which are currently at historically low levels.

In 2020 the region saw an above average snowpack but a dry spring and scorching hot summer quickly eroded its benefits to the Colorado River Basin.

The most recent U.S Drought Monitor map illustrates the extent of the West's moisture deficit:

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Nate Hegyi is a roving regional reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, based at Nevada Public Radio. You can reach him at natehegyi@protonmail.com.

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