Why Colorado’s snowpack numbers are so ridiculously off the charts

As of Monday, Colorado’s snowpack numbers were nearly off the charts. Statewide snowpack levels were at 539 percent of their season-to-date average, and about 23 times higher than where they were at this time a year ago.

After a tough few winters, there’s little doubt that this winter has featured a remarkable turnaround for Colorado and the West. In particular, the southwestern portion of the state is running more than 10 times above the season-to-date average, and every mountain basin in the state is more than twice its typical early June snowpack levels.

We’ve made a big deal about these statistics, and snowpack is unquestionably far higher than where it normally is for the beginning of June. But, these numbers – while true, of course – might be a bit misleading and worth an extra note of clarification. On Friday, the Colorado Climate Center sent a series of tweets to help explain the significance behind some of the snowpack data figures that have garnered so much attention.

So essentially, it’s the slow start to the melting season – fueled by cold late spring temperatures and, yes, some bouts of late May snow – that’s keeping Colorado’s snowpack so ridiculously high.

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