Typically by mid April the snow season is over for Star Valley Ranch(snow can still occur as locals can attest even into June). However by mid April the winter snow pack is rapidly melting away providing the life blood of Star Valley. Looking back reviewing how the most recent winter snow season was and comparing to recent winters is the goal of this report.
Looking back at the water year which begins on October 1st is the method of an annual evaluation of each winter. Following is a graph for this past winter which includes both the snowfall for each month along with the water content and rainfall(Almost all the winter precipitation this year was in the form of snow).
2020-2021 Snow Precipitation inches
October 2 .63
November 23 2.16
December 36 2.65
January 25 1.64
February 81 4.13
March 11 .57
April through 10th 3 .29
Totals 181 12.07
While February was particularly snowy with around 7 feet and over 4 inches of water content the actual winter ended up with somewhat less than normal totals of 181 inches of snow and 12.07 inches of water content. The greatest snow depth of the winter of 46 inches was measured on February 20th.
The next graph compares the past 5 years both snow and total precipitation for each water year through mid April.
Year Snow Pecipitation
2020-21 181 12.07
2019-20 224 16.69
2018-19 199 18.22
2017-18 178 17.53
2016-17 232 25.98
While this year there was about 15 feet of snow(181 inches), the water content was somewhat below normal(15 inches is about normal), with just over 12 inches. Also the lowest water content in the past 5 years and about half of the 2016-17 total of nearly 26 inches.
Ironically and to emphasize how snowy this past February was, the measured snow depth of 46 inches on the 20th was the greatest in the past 6 winters.
For comparison purposes same view of the Star Valley Ranch Snow Gauge Cam last Fall and on the day with the greatest snow depth of 46 inches.
All observations were from an official Cocorahs station in Star Valley Ranch located on Vista Drive near the National Forest line at 6400 feet elevation.
While Star Valley was somewhat drier than normal such was not the case to the south and west through Utah, Arizona into California. These areas are in the midst of extreme drought conditions which includes a particularly dry winter and low snow packs.
Drought conditions as of April 8 2021.
Much of the Northern Rockies including Wyoming, Idaho and Western Montana are starting the growing season with dry but much more favorable conditions than further south.