Clear skies slated to cede to storms in Pagosa Country

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By Josh Pike | Staff Writer

Resplendently blue skies reigned across Pagosa Country on Wednesday, March 2.

According to forecasts from AccuWeather, skies should remain clear through Thursday, March 3.

The National Weather Service (NWS) concurs, forecasting that Pagosa Springs should continue to experience clear conditions for Wednesday and Thursday.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Water and Climate Center’s snowpack report, the Wolf Creek summit, at 11,000 feet of elevation, had 29.8 inches of snow water equivalent as of 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March. 2.

That amount is up 3.9 inches from the snow water equivalent depth of 25.9 inches reported Feb. 22.

The Wolf Creek summit is at 120 percent of the March 2 snowpack median.

The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan river basins were at 97 percent of the March 2 median in terms of snowpack.

Avalanche conditions

According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) website, the southern San Juan range, including Wolf Creek Pass was at level two — moderate — in terms of avalanche danger, as of 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2.

CAIC uses a scale of one through five to assess avalanche danger in regions around the state.

“You can trigger an avalanche on northwest through north to northeast facing terrain steeper than 35 degrees near and below treeline where a slab rests on weak collapsible snow layers below. Avoid potential trigger points like steep open rollovers and high sides of concave terrain features. Above treeline, you can initiate an avalanche where winds drifted or stiffened hollow feeling slabs against rocky outcroppings or adjacent ridgelines. Seek out lower angled terrain, as backcountry travel is tough to manage today. Warm temperatures ensue after another mild freeze overnight, adding complexity to our avalanche problems. Think about pulling off steep sunny slopes by early afternoon if you find heavy-wet snow; see fresh rollerballs, pinwheels, or small sluffs,” the website states.

The CAIC website also notes that avalanche conditions to remain similar until the next chance of measurable precipitation arrives on Friday.

“The late Winter sun angle combined with warm temperatures will continue to push our recreational interests toward colder, more desirable snow conditions, where the primary concern of triggering a dangerous avalanche will remain,” the CAIC website stated.

Additional avalanche information can be found online at: https://avalanche.state.co.us.

Weather outlook

According to the NWS, today, Thursday, March 3, temperatures in Pagosa Springs are forecasted to reach a high of 59 degrees with sunny skies. The forecasted low is 27 degrees with partly cloudy skies.

For Friday, March 4, the forecasted high is 55 degrees with partly sunny skies turning into a slight chance for thunderstorms later in the day. The forecasted low is 9 degrees with likely rain and snow turning to snow showers overnight.

For Saturday, March 5, temperatures are forecasted to reach a high of 22 degrees with snow showers likely throughout the day. The forecasted low is 19 degrees with snow showers likely at night.

For Sunday, March 5, the forecasted high is 38 degrees with snow showers likely during the day. The forecasted low is 10 degrees with a chance of snow showers turning to mostly cloudy skies overnight.

Water report

According to a Feb. 28 press release from the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) Manager Justin Ramsey, Lake Forest is now full.

Pagosa Lake is now 1 inch from full and Village Lake is 4 inches from full.

Stevens Lake is the lowest of the five local lakes at 27 inches from full.

Hatcher Lake is currently 16 inches from full.

Total diversion flows for the district are listed at 4.5 cubic feet per second (cfs).

The West Fork diversion flow is listed at 2.5 cfs and the Four Mile diversion flow is at 2 cfs.

Water production from Feb. 18 through Feb. 24 was listed at a total of 12.22 million gallons. The Snowball water plant contributed 2.72 million gallons, while the Hatcher plant contributed 9.50 million gallons.

The San Juan plant was shut down for winter on Sept. 30, 2021.

Last year, total water production was listed at 10.64 million gallons for those dates.

josh@pagosasun.com