Santa’s Snowpack: Christmastime snow accumulation above Lake Powell



The mountains around Prescott were spectacular over Christmas. So were Flagstaff and the surrounding the San Francisco Peaks.

But when all is said and done, it’s the snowpack in the western Rockies that matters most for our water supply. So, if snowflakes joined those sugar-plums dancing in your head over the holidays, the green line in the graph above shows what you were seeing.

The graph depicts what the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center (CBRFC) uses to display the snowpack above Lake Powell, including the average snowpack as measured between 1981 and 2010, and the two most recent full winter measurements. As noted, the green line depicts the current snow-year, so it ends roughly in mid-December.

(The CBRFC uses the term “snow water equivalent” to describe the average or median conditions above various points in the Upper Colorado River Basin.  Snow water equivalent means the amount of actual water in a column of snow.  For example, 10 inches of snow equals one inch of water.)

As the chart depicts, 2015 was way below average snowpack. 2016 was better, but still below average. And the current winter (described as 2017) is just now inching above average.