January 2021 Pagosa Weather Precipitation Summary & Snowpack Update

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Saturday – 30 Jan 2021 – 10:30am

January 2021 Pagosa Weather precipitation summary

Estimated liquid equivalent precipitation for January ranged from 0.5”-1” in the western part of the county to 3-4” along the Divide in the eastern part of the county. (Note: This data is derived from multiple sources.)

Our CoCoRaHS observers measured 1-2” in the Pagosa Springs area. The average January precip is 1.97” so much of the county had below average precip. CoCoRaHS observed snowfall for January ranged from to 20-33”. The average snowfall for January is 26.4”.

Wolf Creek started the month with 164″ YTD and reported 238″ YTD today to total 74″. That’s very close to their January average of 73.4″.

Snowpack update

As of 30 January, snowpack across Colorado is around 80%. In our nearby basins, it’s 82%.

Jan 2021 Precip Snowpack 2

Snotel Data

As of 30 January, the snotel data for our specific area is a bit more encouraging. The Upper San Juan is at 94% and the Wolf Creek Summit is at 104%.

Jan 2021 Precip Snotel 3 1

Drought Update

This week’s drought map indicates that Archuleta County ranges from “severe drought” along the eastern Divide to “exceptional drought” in the western part of the county. We must get above average precip to see an improvement. February outlook…The long range models indicate that the first part of the month could be active and then less active the second part of the month. I see lots of uncertainty in the long range models.

Jan 2021 Drought 4

NWS Outlook

The official February outlooks indicate a chance for above average temps and a chance for below average precip.

Jan 2021 Outlook 5
Jan 2021 Outlook 6

Long Range Euro Snow Outlook

This Euro ensemble 45 day outlook shows 25” of snow for Pagosa Springs by 1 March. However, I look more at trends than specifics. The trend on this product is fairly active the first week, a lull in the middle of the month, and then a slow steady rise towards the end of the month. The February average snowfall is 18.9” so this product is optimistic, but I am skeptical. Reminder… long range models and outlooks are notoriously unreliable. (Note: I look at a bunch of data and do not just rely on a single product.)

Jan 2021 EPS Snow Outlook

My next forecast post will be later today.

– Shawn

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I grew up in Montana where my love of the mountains is rooted. I was in the Air Force, forecasting aviation weather, for 24 years. I had eight assignments and my favorites were Colorado, Alaska, Korea, and Germany. I deployed a number of times including to Iraq and Afghanistan. After RV traveling for nine years, we found paradise in Pagosa. Here we enjoy playing outside in the spectacular San Juan mountains!
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