Recent storms are helping to keep Colorado’s snowpack high, but one area is lagging behind

(SOUTHERN COLORADO) — Thanks to a series of storms, snow pack in Colorado is above average this time of year and most of southern Colorado is where it should be at this time of year, but one area fell short.

As of last week, the nationwide snowpack is 131% of normal. With our highest amounts found over the mountains. However, one catchment area is still lagging behind. The Arkansas River Basin. at 84% percent of normal, the lowest in the state.

If we take a closer look at the Arkansas River Basin, one city in particular stands out and falls far short of what it should be at this time of year. This city is Pueblo.

Pueblo has received 6.6 inches of snow so far this month. Compared to where the city should be at this time of year, Pueblo normally should have received 14.2 inches, and right now Pueblo is down -7.5 inches at just 1.2 inches.

It’s not that recent storms have been aiming away from Pueblo, but where they’re located brings the problem, and as the National Weather Service in Pueblo puts it, they’ve stayed in a “rainfall donut hole.”

Pueblo Precipitation Donut Hole: Courtesy of NWS Pueblo

But why is it like that?

The Pueblo Precipitation Donut Hole is not a new concept. It simply means that this area tends to get less rainfall than the areas immediately around it. Canon City and areas south of Colorado Springs (e.g. fountains) are also included in this donut hole effect.

Precipitation in these areas generally falls on the short side due to location. Pueblo is tucked away near the Arkansas River. At a lower elevation than surrounding areas such as Palmer Divide and Raton Mesa, it tends to receive more “down winds,” or winds that are warmer and drier. Most often this down wind comes from north, south or west directions and from these directions the down wind leaves no room for precipitation to form.

Fall wind example: Courtesy of NWS Pueblo

However, there are exceptions. If the wind changes direction and comes from the east, then Pueblo and the surrounding areas have a better chance of humidity. If a stronger or more dynamic storm develops, it can also help eliminate the effects of the downwind.

Stay tuned to the FOX21 Storm Team and our weather app (download it on Apple or Google Play) to take a look at your forecast and snow probability.

Fortunately, there is still time to catch up from Pueblo. With more storms forecast for the next few weeks and plenty of winter ahead, Pueblo and the Arkansas River Basin just need more big snowstorms to help.


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