GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — On Wednesday at Berthoud Pass, a team of hydrologists for nature resource conservation service are doing important work measuring the snowpack from this winter, which tells us a lot about the summer season ahead.
So far, their data has them a bit concerned.
FOX31 followed Karl Wetlaufer and Mike Artesian as they conducted routine maintenance on the snotel site in Berthoud Pass, making sure equipment is transmitting the right data. The snotel site measures the snowpack and liquid water content, which tells us how much runoff we can expect this spring.
“When the snow starts to melt, the soil has to absorb a certain amount of that water to fill the poor space before they’ll actually transmit water through the soil structure and see it in in rivers and streams,” said Wetlaufer.
This year, the hydrologists found the soil is very dry thanks to 2020, one of the hottest and dryest summers we’ve ever had in Colorado.
“Nearly half of our snotel sites in the state had either the record-lowest or second record-lowest precipitation on record over the last calendar year, basically from the beginning of April to current,” said Wetlaufer.
With dry soil this winter, that means less water runoff this spring. That ultimately will bring another dry summer. Coloradans should expect to conserve water. Wetlaufer said there’s also a chance property owners will see water curtailments.
“Even into the recreation industry of rafting and fishing companies, having lower stream runoff can impact the state in quite a few different ways,” said Wetlaufer. “It’s really going to impact a pretty good chunk of people within the greater Colorado river system.”