Greetings from Silverton, Colorado -
I hope our readers had a very enjoyable summer/fall. The summer flew by here at Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies catching up on projects that got pushed aside while we were monitoring the spring snowpack, performing summer station maintenance, and preparing for the coming winter. I was hoping this beginning of the snow season update would coincide with a storm report detailing a big event to kick off WY2016. But, unfortunately the month of October in the San Juan Mountains has been a bit dry. Measured precipitation the month of October at the Swamp Angel Study Plot in our Senator Beck Study Basin (SBSB) was 0.75 (19 mm). At Red Mountain SNOTEL, located exactly 1-mile the way the crow flies, measured precipitation was 0.60" (15 mm). We saw some nice precipitation events in August and September, some of which included snow at higher elevations but have since melted. These Aug/Sept precipitation events resulted in bumps in streamflow higher than the norm, but currently we are seeing discharge a tad below normal. Concurrently, soil moisture conditions are in lower percentiles throughout most of the State.
CSAS Noteworthy News:
- NASA is conducting a very exciting project, and a big deal in the snow/water research community, in Senator Beck Basin this year. The project, called SnowEx, is a multi-year airborne snow campaign. Its goal is to collect multi-sensor observations, including radar, lidar, multispectral imagery, along with ground-truth observations throughout SBSB. The goal is to determine which techniques work best for measuring snow, and to combine these in a design for the development of a snow-sensing satellite. The team began with "snow off" fly-overs of bare ground September 28 - October 4. "Snow on" fly-overs will take place this February. Since the SnowEx project wants to push current techniques until they break, focusing on challenges presented by forests and extreme topographical relief like SBSB is the perfect venue to collect a unique dataset that will enable snow mission trade studies while also enabling scientific inquiry. Because of SBSB's long history of lidar airborne campaigns, snow science research with over a 10-year meteorological and stream flow dataset, NASA deemed the SBSB the ideal location to conduct the first year campaign.
- CSAS is once again offering "Snow School for Water Managers" March 1-3, 2017. The intent of this workshop, a combination of classroom and field learning, is to enhance participant understanding of snowpack processes, monitoring, and data. See attached flyer for more details.
- Do you know someone who would like to receive our Storm Reports? If so, please have the interested person contact me to be added to the Report notification list.
- The forecast for the San Juan Mountains is starting to include snowflakes at higher elevations, barely. A cold front will push through the area this evening continuing the threat of precipitation overnight. Dry conditions expected Wednesday. Chances of precipitation are best later in the week, when it's expected we'll see Gulf moisture being pulled in around the Four Corners Friday and Saturday bringing precipitation mainly south of I-70.
Below is the 7-day precipitation and 3-month temperature/precipitation outlook forecast by the Climate Prediction Center. Last I heard, weak La-Nina conditions are still trying to become established, while a return to ENSO-neutral is not off the table. And, as is typical for La-Nina, October started the season off dry. So we'll see what happens. Keep in mind that the Colorado Climate Center provides informative weekly updates that sometimes include forecasts by Klaus Wolter with NOAA: http://ccc.atmos.colostate.edu/