By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
While the mountain snowpacks that fill Wyoming’s rivers and reservoirs are lower than they usually are at this time of year, meteorologists are hopeful that snowfalls in March and April will make up for it.
Tony Bergantino, acting director of the Water Resources Data System in the Wyoming State Climate Office told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that although snowpack levels are low, the period where Wyoming gets some of its heaviest snow accumulations is fast approaching.
“I can think of several years where the timeframe around March 15-20 has had some very heavy snowfalls, as well as the large storm in the middle of March last year which set some records,” Bergantino said.
“The snows we got around Christmas and the two or so weeks following were good for pushing the percentage up to normal (and above) but when things turned off after that, the snowpack remained near constant, only increasing gradually until we were below the median and continued to lose ground,” he said.
None of Wyoming’s snowpacks are above average for this time of year, although snowpacks in the Wind, Upper North Platte and Laramie basins are the closest, measuring at 93%, 90% and 94% of the median, respectively, as of Thursday.
Bergantino was hopeful that the snowfall predicted for most of the state this weekend would bring the snowpack levels closer to normal.
Southeastern Wyoming saw the lowest snowpack levels at 64% of the median, followed by northeastern Wyoming at 68% to 70%.
Wyoming weatherman Don Day agreed with both Bergantino’s analysis of the snowpack levels and the chances for replenishing snows to fall over the next two and one-half months.
“This time of year is the big snowpack month, when we normally see the water-laden snows start hitting the mountains more,” he said. “It’s been a really strange snowpack year. It started off really bad, with the levels being really poor in November into the second week of December.”
However, since the end of December, snowpack levels have declined, since there hasn’t been much snowfall since the beginning of the year.
“I think what’s going to happen is something similar to what happened in December, which is the snowpack season starts off poorly, but then we have this big burst of snow, and everybody’s happy,” Day said. “Then, we kind of go into this two months of very little mountain snow. Snowpack levels aren’t great, but I have hope that the next two and a half months are going to help.”