Snowpack totals at lowest levels in state in more than 3 decades

DENVER -- Despite snow in the mountains on Wednesday, a report about the current condition of the snowpack across Colorado has many worried fire danger could be around the corner.

About 2-3 inches fell in the second passing storm to bring some well-needed snow in the past week, but more is needed.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service indicates the start of the 2018 water year has been one of the driest on record for Colorado.

Snowpack totals throughout the state haven't been this low in more than three decades, leaving some river basins in southwest Colorado down to only 27 percent of normal.

The South Platte river basin, the one Denver metro residents rely heavily on, is measuring at 81 percent of normal.

Not only is the lack of snow back for recreational activities such as skiing and snowboarding, but if the dry weather persists, fire danger will rapidly increase, something the Foothills Fire District chief is worried about.

"The longer we go without significant moisture, the more the other fuels, the shrubs and big trees, the drier they get, the more prone they get to actually starting a fire," Brian Zoril said.

"It starts in the grass, it goes up and they are not able to defend themselves from fire like they would be. It makes fire a year-round concern.

"The snow helps to replenish the water table. As it melts, it goes into the soil, the roots of the plants absorb that moisture. It makes them not as likely to burn.

"The drier the grass, the drier the trees get, the more likely they are to catch fire."

A few snow showers will be possible in the high country on Thursday and Friday with an additional 2-4 inches by the start of the weekend.