Manager Mike Dodge shovels snow outside the Main Street Apartments in downtown Littleton, Jan. 4, 2014. Temperatures will linger in the low 20s Saturday as
Manager Mike Dodge shovels snow outside the Main Street Apartments in downtown Littleton, Jan. 4, 2014. Temperatures will linger in the low 20s Saturday as a storm drops anywhere from 3 to 5 inches of snow in the Denver metro area, forecasters say. (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post)

Early winter weather in the Colorado mountains this season has set up the high country's snowpack to be above average in most basins.

"We had a really good start to the season, with above average snow in October and November," said Mage Hultstrand, an assistant snow survey supervisor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service.

This time last year, mountain snowpack statewide was at about 70 percent of average. This year, it's running about 103 percent of average.

"We are pretty much right at normal conditions for this time of year right now," Hultstrand said.

Following some drought years, and below-normal snowpack percentages, this year's numbers are much welcomed, Hultstrand said. "Overall, things are looking pretty good."

River basins running above average include: Big Thompson, 106 percent; Laramie River, 117 percent; Yampa River, 112 percent; and the North Platte River, 107 percent.

Snow basins below average include: Boulder Creek, 85 percent; and Saint Vrain, 76 percent.

The long-term weather forecast is neutral when it comes to how much snow the Colorado high country can expect through the winter and into the spring, said Jim Kalina, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.


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Long-term forecast models are split on whether the state will get more- or less-than typical snowfall.

"This year, it's iffy," Kalina said. "It could go either way."

Denver Water, which serves about 1.3 million people in the city and surrounding suburbs, depends on mountain snowpack in the Colorado and South Platte river basins.

"We are right on track for this time of year," utility spokeswoman Stacy Chesney said.

The Colorado River basin is at 105 percent, Chesney said, and the South Platte River basin at 103 percent. Last year at the basins were at 55 and 48 percent respectively.

"It's too early to predict what it means for 2014," Chesney said. "We have the full winter in front of us."

Kieran Nicholson: 303-954-1822, knicholson@denverpost.com or twitter.com/kierannicholson