April is prime to to let your inner gauge geek rage. After some much needed spring storms, the inevitable question for front range boaters is... will bear creek run?
After searching through the snotel data, it appears that the Echo Lake snotel site, is the best site to use for Bear Creek analysis. The Echo Lake snotel site is located about 5 miles NW of Mt. Evans and is in the Bear Creek drainage. Attached is a map that shows the location of the snotel site relative to Bear Creek.
I pulled echo lake snotel data from 1999-2008, and compared the snowpack data to estimated peak flow during runoff from the bear creek at morrison CODWR gauge. I removed two outlier data points, and the correlation is reasonable. You can use this plot to get a general idea of what kind of snowpack you need on the echo lake snotel gauge to get certain peak flows on bear creek. It should be noted that I neglected the monsoon rain peaks in July/Aug as those are driven by rain, and independent of snowpack.
The sad news for Bear Creek for the 2009 season is that the current snowpack on the Echo Lake snotel looks to be about 50% of average. Bummer. Based on the correlation of snowpack to peak flows, we can expect a peak flow on Bear Creek of about Jack Squat CFS.
Anyway, bad news for this year, but good information to have. In the future, look for 125% of average or above on the Echo Lake snotel site for a potentially decent Bear Creek season. For reference, the 2007 banner Bear Creek season had 168% of avg on the Echo Lake site, and was the largest snowpack the site had in a decade. We can still hope for monster upslope storms and massive monsoon rains...