Interannual variations in snowpack in the Rocky Mountains

TitleInterannual variations in snowpack in the Rocky Mountains
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference1989
AuthorsDoesken, N. J., Chanano D., and McKee T. B.
Conference Name57th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 57th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 1989
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationFort Collins, Colorado
KeywordsClimate variability, Hydrologic variability, Snowpack, Streamflow

Unpredictable year to year variations in surface water supplies present substantial challenges to present and potential water managers and users in the West. As a part of a study of climate variations and their effect on Western water supplies, data from USDA Soil Conservation Service snowcourses with continuous data since at least 1951 have been investigated for the entire area from the southern Rockies to the Canadian border. Several characteristics of snowpack variations have been indentified and will be described. Systematic differences in snowpack distribution between wet and dry years will be discussed. Large-scale associations between snowpack, gage precipitation and streamflow will be presented. Reasons for year to year regional flucuations in the ratios of snowpack to precipitation and snowpack to streamflow will be suggested. Finally, apparent long-term trends toward wetter winters in the southern Rockies and drier winters farther north will be assessed in terms of known climatic flucuations.