Dust on Snow - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 04-14-2014   #1
 
DanOrion's Avatar
 
Indian Hills, Colorado
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Dust on Snow

Guys and Gals:

It's gonna be major this year. Dust off your dancing shoes because the snowpack looks big and red in the Upper South Platte and Upper Ark and I suspect it's just as bad or worse in the Upper Colorado and Upper Animas.

Big snow pack = big flows.
Red dust on snow = crazy fast run off. This is a fact.

Here's some good info for snowpack percentage by snowtel gage:
ftp://ftp.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/data/snow/update/co.txt

And here's some light reading:
Center For Snow and Avalanche Studies - Silverton, Colorado

So, when the night-time temps cease to drop below freezing and the sun shines all day. It's gonna rip off fast.

I'll make a bold and rash prediction:
Ark at Salida - Peak at 6k in June
Clear at Golden - Peak at 2k in July

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Old 04-14-2014   #2
 
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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Glad to see someone finally making some predictions on flow! I agree, with my experience in the backcountry this season there is 2 red layers with the upper being the thickest. Snow pack is around 140% of average on Independence Pass and with another snow forecast for Wednesday I think its going to go huge....
I don't like the gauges around Salida because there are lots of diversions in that zone, but I do think we will see 5000+ in Browns. Would be sweet to see 6000, highest I have personally seen was 5500.
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Old 04-14-2014   #3
 
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Overseas, Colorado
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Dust on Snow

I'm betting a kind beer, on 5200 cfs at the Parkdale gauge June 5th. I saw 5 grand in 97', but missed it in 2011. Stupid Afghanistan.



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Old 04-14-2014   #4
 
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
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I mostly know about the Glenwood area, but is this forecast just way off for some reason. Is it always off or only for this season?

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Old 04-15-2014   #5
 
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Not sure about 6k in Salida and 2k in golden. Seems a bit much.

I'll vote on 3,800 in Salida and 1,600 in Golden.


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Old 04-15-2014   #6
 
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I don't think that forecast figures in the dust layer and associated acceleration of melt. If the weather stays cool and wet into June then 2600 is probably accurate, but if it gets hot quick the river is going to go huge.
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Old 04-15-2014   #7
 
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How does this year's snowpack compare to 2011? In 2011 the Ark at Nathrop peaked at about 3900.

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Old 04-15-2014   #8
 
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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2009 had 37" of moisture at Independence (Brumely) on April 14th and the river peaked just over 3000 at Nathrop during the last week of June.

2010 had 34" of moisture and peaked around 5000 the second week in June.

2011 had 50" of moisture and peaked around 4000 in early July.

2012 had 8" of moisture and peaked in the first week of May at 700.

2013 had 38" of moisture and peaked just shy of 3000 the second week of June.

2014 has 51" of moisture on April 14th.....
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Old 04-15-2014   #9
 
Salida, Colorado
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It's tougher to predict what will happen on the Ark because there is so much west slope water coming through. So Ark basin snowpack isn't the only factor in the final flow pattern. Throw in a dust storm at a couple different times during winter and it further compounds a prediction. This year the dust is on top, what if it happened in December and isn't exposed until later in the runoff?

2011 was a crazy year in that it seems like we saw ~3K almost all summer long, and we actually grew tired of it with the endless stresses that accompany peak runoff. Monarch received 40 feet of snow that year. For more fun in peak flow discussion, that historically high and long runoff was followed immediately in 2012 by an historic low/short runoff. On top of that, who knows what the next 6 weeks will bring in the form of additional or reduced snowpack.

Final stats at Monarch: 340 inches, with a final settled base of 8 feet. They maintained 100" base through the entire last month or more of the ski season. If Roaring Fork/Frying Pan drainages have the same type of snowpack, and it appears they do, we could see another banner year. But a whole bunch of variables that makes forecasting so much fun!
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Old 04-15-2014   #10
 
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I think it will get big fast when temps come up, last week's warm weather over the Colorado Basin raised flows up fast but now dropping with cold front. WW rose from 4k to 9k in a few days so thats an indication of melt rate for the upper drainages.
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