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Pre-Halloween storms deliver shivers and snow across Colorado

Early storms bump Denver Water’s snowpack to third-highest levels for October.

Technically, it’s still fall, but winter weather has arrived across Colorado.

Denver got hit with several snowstorms in October, while ski areas like Breckenridge and Keystone reported record snowfall for the month, with 48 and 44 inches respectively. Winter Park Ski Resort saw over 40 inches of snow in October and is making its earliest opening ever on Nov. 2.

Snow at these resorts is always a welcome site for Denver Water because it melts in the spring and fills reservoirs for water supply.

Donald McCreer, Dillon Reservoir facility operator at Denver Water, measures the snow on Oct. 30, 2019. Photo source: Denver Water.


As of Oct. 31, the combined snowpack of the South Platte and Upper Colorado river basins where Denver Water catches its snow measured 271% of normal.

It’s important to note that this time of year when the snowpack is still building, a couple inches of snow can look dramatically higher percentage-wise.

That ranks October 2019 as third in Denver Water’s record book for highest snowpack measurements during the tenth month of the year.

The Denver Water record for most October snowpack was set in 2006, when the monthly snowpack total hit 517% of normal.

Snowpack is a measure of the snow water equivalent, which is the estimated amount of water contained in the mountain snow if it melted. Denver Water gets its snowpack information from automated SNOTEL stations and monthly measurements on the ground by its mountain reservoir caretakers.

“Coming off a hot and dry end to the summer, it’s great to see a strong start to the new water year, which runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30,” said Nathan Elder, manager of water supply at Denver Water. “It’s still important to remember that our wettest months come in the spring.”

The good news is that Denver Water’s reservoirs are in good shape heading into 2020, standing at 89% of capacity. The average for the end of October is 85% full.