March 06, 2006

Looking for snow

RIGHT: What's wrong with this picture?

Not wanting to drive all the way to the Leadville area, M. and I opted to take the dogs skiing part-way up Monarch Pass. There was plenty of snow at Monarch Park, but its surface was a mixture of water and ice. Not exactly a primo experience.

Sometimes you can ski up the Forest Service road at Fooses Creek, lower down the pass, but as this photo shows, that was not an option today.

Blame La Niña. Again, we are in Dread mode. Dread of drought, as in 2002, the Year of No Grass. Dread of fire, as in 2002 and last year. One big spring blizzard sure would be nice.

The Pueblo Chieftain summarizes the bad news:

The dry conditions--already labeled a moderate drought by the U.S. Drought Monitor--mean increased fire danger, grazing cutbacks and possible water restrictions for cities in southern Pueblo, Custer, Huerfano and Las Animas counties.

The best indicator is snowpack, which is greater than 100 percent of average for the state, but only 10 to 35 percent at measurement sites in the southern mountains. The moisture content of the snow is also low.

All that is saving the Arkansas Basin is that the headwaters around Leadville have gotten a good amount of snow. The South Arkansas drainage, off Monarch Pass, looks bad, as does the Sangre de Cristo Range, which feeds Texas Creek and Grape Creek, plus the Huerfano River.

But there's lots of snow in Aspen, and Denver has no water restrictions, so life is wonderful, no?

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