What is happening with snowpack in your state?
Select any one of the states to learn more about this year’s trends in snowpack.
Why is snowpack important to the West?
Snowpack in the West is essential to creating healthy flowing rivers that support recreation, tourism, and habitat for thousands of species. Communities also rely on the snowpack to fill reservoirs that supply cities and towns with a steady supply of drinking water year-round.
What are the long term trends in snowpack in the West?
“Since 1915, the average snowpack in western states has declined by between 15 and 30 percent …. and the amount of water lost from that snowpack reduction is comparable in volume to Lake Mead, the West’s largest manmade reservoir.”
~ 2018 study in NPJ Climate and Atmospheric Science
Warmer temperatures during winter months due to increased greenhouse gases are a major factor in this downward trend in snowpack. However, the impact of climate change on snowpack in the West is felt not only during winter months. Less snowpack means less water in our rivers and streams during the spring and more intense droughts during the summer.
What are the major trends in snowpack in the West this year?
We can monitor how current snowpack will impact streamflow later in the year by measuring something called Snow Water Equivalent (SWE). SWE is the amount of water contained within the snowpack. The Natural Resources Conservation Service maps below show percentage of SWE on the first of every month compared to what has been considered normal over an almost 30-year period.
- Any basin colored in red, orange, or yellow means there is currently less snowpack than what is considered normal.
- Any basin colored in green or blue means there is currently the same or more snowpack than what is considered normal.
Snowpack in Colorado
SWE for the 2019-2020 Colorado Water Year
Check out our Strategic Engagement Manager’s presentation on snowpack from the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s Talking Green!
March 26: Snowpack and River Health: The Impacts of Climate Change