Wyoming's seasonal snowpack totals are off to slow start

2012-12-10T21:00:00Z 2013-03-18T17:17:04Z Wyoming's seasonal snowpack totals are off to slow startBy LAURA HANCOCK Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

Total snowfall in Wyoming thus far this winter is lower than in previous years, a water supply specialist said Monday.

The median snowfall in the Cowboy State is 93 percent of the median snowfall from 1981-2010, according to the report by the Natural Resources Conversation Service.

That doesn’t mean the entire state is experiencing drought, according to Lee Hackleman of the NRCS.

The northwestern part of Wyoming is on track for a normal, snowy winter, he said. The southeastern part of Wyoming is severely lacking snowfall.

The differences are striking, according to data presented by Hackleman. The Snake River drainage basin in northeastern Wyoming is 121 percent of the 1981-2010 median and the Belle Fourche drainage basin in the Black Hills is 36 percent.

“Storms are kind of coming up from the southwest to the northeast,” Hackleman said. “They’re basically missing the Black Hills and the southern part of the state.”

Snow is all important to Wyoming. Most of the state’s water comes from snowmelt.

“The snowpack we have in April is a lot more important than what we have now,” Heckleman said. “But what we have now will affect it. A lot of the stuff now will saturate the ground.”

This time last year, the state’s snowfall median was 109 percent of normal.

This year’s 93 percent could be an indicator of a dry winter. Or it could be an indicator of a dry few months. Wyoming could still get walloped with the white stuff later this season.

This winter will not bring El Nino or La Nina storms. That makes it tough for meteorologists to forecast snow totals, Hackleman said.

This past weekend, a storm helped the state’s snowfall totals, boosting the median from 85 percent on Dec. 3.

Relatively speaking, Wyoming is faring better than other places.

“As bad as we are to the south, that’s Colorado’s good part,” Hackleman said. “They go from bad to worse.”

Reach state reporter Laura Hancock at 307-266-0581 or at laura.hancock@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter: @laurahancock.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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