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  1. 1/6/2012 COLORADO'S VETERAN SNOW SURVEY CHIEF FINDS SNOWPACK SIGNIFICANTLY BELOW AVERAGE UPON FIRST SNOWPACK READING OF THE SEASON - BUT DON’T PANIC
  2. On his last day on the job, Colorado's veteran snow survey chief found snowpack significantly below average. Mike Gillespie, the snow survey supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Colorado, has visited this particular measurement site along U.S. 40 just below the Berthoud Pass summit at the same time each year for 28 years to measure the snowpack. In his first year, when snow piled up twice as much as normal, it took a heroic effort just to climb the 200 yards to the measurement site. On this visit, it took about five minutes. The first manual snow sampling of the season on December 29, 2011 confirmed what automated sensors have been suggesting for weeks: The water available in Colorado's snowpack is significantly below average. Statewide, snowpack is 73 percent of average. That ranks as the fourth-driest measurement in the past 30 years, according to the conservation service. No river basin in Colorado is above average. No year in the past three decades that has started this far below average has recovered to average snowpack by the start of spring, Gillespie said. "It's pretty evident that this is one of the drier years," Gillespie said. "It's not looking like a good start at all to the year." Gillespie, who started doing snow surveys in Wyoming 31 years ago, has the experience to know.
     
    But there is no reason to panic. As in recent years it is too soon to say what sort of water year it is going to be. Historically, March through May are the “wettest” months for the mountains and the Denver Metro Area. Typically in a year with average snow-pack levels the reservoirs fill to their expected levels for the summer season. At this time Denver Water’s reservoir system is 6% above historical levels according to its most recent Water Watch Report dated December 12, 2011.
     
    For current reservoir levels in the Denver Water system, please visit their Water Supply page by clicking here.