Most of the attention this winter has been focused in the Midwest, Great Lakes and Northeast where harsh winter weather has reigned supreme and with good reason as this winter will end up as one of the coldest and snowiest in decades for some areas.
However, as we head into the critical months of March, April and May a lot of attention will be paid to snowpack conditions in the west.
So far this winter there have been big winners….and big losers in regards to snowpack conditions thus far. As we can see in the graphic below, there is a wide disparity in snowpack conditions from the Pacific Northwest and Sierra and into the Rockies.
The big winners so far are the drainages in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.
Snow water equivalents in those states are at or well above normal in almost all the drainages, especially in Wyoming and Northern Colorado. The headwaters of the North Platte, South Platte, Yellowstone and Colorado Rivers are in great shape heading into the big snow months of March, April and May. While not perfect, snowpack conditions have improved in Utah and northern and eastern Idaho.
Recent stormy weather in the Pacific Northwest and California has increased snowpack in those areas, however, many areas are still below 60% of average in regards to snow water equivalent.
The recent spell of wet weather in the far west, however, has only given the snowpack areas of Arizona and New Mexico a glancing blow.
As we look ahead into the next 90 days, the forecast for a growing snowpack looks very good for Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado and eastern Utah. There will also be some modest improvement in the Pacific Northwest as well as the Northern and Central Sierra Nevada of California and Nevada. While normal snowpack conditions are not likely by the end of the season in the Pacific Northwest and California/Nevada, conditions will improve some over where we were earlier in the season.