Winter Storm - March 17-20, 2003

Snow Total Image

Estimated Total Snowfall - March 17-20, 2003

 

A large, slow moving, moist storm system set up over the southern Great Plains on Monday and brought persistent rain and snow to Southern Colorado from Monday Night through Wednesday night.  Most of the accumulating snow fell above 6000 feet, which included the Central and Southeast mountains and high valleys, and the adjacent plains. Areas hardest hit by snow on the plains were the Northern half of El Paso County, and from Southern Pueblo County to the New Mexico state line. Snow amounts just north of Colorado Springs reached above 3 feet, while the official reading at the airport was just 1.7 inches.  Many areas around Trinidad received over 1 foot of snow, and Huerfano county amounts close to the mountains ranged from 1 1/2 feet to nearly 4 feet.  Sustained winds of 20 to 40 mph caused considerable blowing and drifting of snow, closing several highways and portions of the interstate.  Drifts of 4 to 6 feet were reported across portions of Northern El Paso county. 

But the greatest amounts of snow fell in and near the Wet Mountains, in Pueblo and Custer counties. Unstable, moist air flowed into the Wet Mountains from Monday night through Wednesday night. Snow amounts were around 5 feet in Custer County northeast of Westcliffe.  But even higher amounts were measured and estimated on the east slopes of the Wet Mountains, on the Pueblo Custer county line between 8700 and 9000 feet.  Just north of San Isabel Lake in Custer County on highway 165, a very accurate measurement of 74 inches was made. In that same area, an estimate of around 84 inches was logged on the shore of San Isabel Lake.  Similar estimates of 6 feet were confirmed a few miles north of San Isabel Lake.  

Many of the SNOTEL sites high in the southeast mountains reported between 2 and 4 feet of new snow, which equated to an increase of snow water equivalent (SWE) of anywhere from 1 to almost 5 inches.

Many, many thanks to all the NWS Pueblo spotters, amateur radio operators, and other citizens of southern Colorado for their reports during this event.

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Area County Snow in Inches
Black Forest El Paso 30 to 36
Monument El Paso 36 to 43
Chipita Park El Paso 14.5
Northern Colorado Springs El Paso 11 to 22
Southern Colorado Springs El Paso 1 to 6
2 Miles South  of Florrisant Teller 24
Woodland Park Teller 27 to 36
5 miles SE of Texas Creek Fremont 32
12 miles NNE of Texas Creek Fremont 16 to 20
2 miles S of Coaldale Fremont 26
Howard Fremont 11
Wellsville Fremont 6 to 7
Penrose  Fremont 4.5
Canon City Fremont 2
Rye Pueblo 44
Colorado City Pueblo 22 to 24
Beulah Pueblo 20
Pueblo West Pueblo 2 to 4
Pueblo Airport Pueblo 1.3
San Isabel Lake Custer 84 (estimated)
1 mile N of San Isabel Custer 74
3 miles N of San Isabel Custer 72
10 miles NE of Westcliffe Custer 62
Rosita Custer 43
Westcliffe area Custer 29 to 32
Cuchara Huerfano 45
La Veta Huerfano 38
8 miles S of Walsenburg Huerfano 34
5 miles S of La Veta Huerfano 30
Walsenburg area Huerfano 17 to 25
Stonewall Las Animas 24
Trinidad Las Animas 8 to 18
Leadville Lake 10
6 miles W of Buena Vista Chaffee 24 to 36
Monarch Pass Chaffee 25
Buena Vista Chaffee 15
6 miles W of Nathrop Chaffee 14
Salida Chaffee 10
Crestone Saguache 20
6 miles W of Saguache Saguache 2
Saguache Saguache 1
Great Sand Dunes Alamosa 26
Alamosa Alamosa 3.6
5 miles SE of Ft Garland Costilla 24
Blanca Costilla 10
San Luis Costilla 10
Del Norte Rio Grande 2
Wolf Creek Pass Mineral  9



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