Although the string of heavy April snowstorms put a damper on some spring plans, it also extended the Colorado ski season, delayed the snowmelt and provided a reprieve from wildfire worries.
Boulder has been hit with a record 47.6 inches of snow in April, and the snow hasn't been limited to the Front Range.
Mage Hultstrand, assistant snow survey supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said the state didn't reach the peak snowpack level -- when the snowpack is at its highest before snowmelt sets in -- until Monday. That peak normally comes much earlier in the month.
"It typically occurs in early April," Hultstrand said. "It looked like we were going to have an early peak at the end of March, but the big storms the last few weeks really boosted this snow pack.
"It was huge. We finally got some late-season snow, or we would be well into the snowmelt season right now."
The snowpack in the South Platte River basin -- a major water supplier for the Front Range -- is 95 percent of normal for this time of year, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service website. As recently as April 7, it was 70 percent. The basin's peak snowpack was 90 percent of the typical peak.
The upper Colorado River basin snowpack level is now 109 percent of average for this time of year, up from 74 percent April 7. The peak snowpack was 95 percent of the typical peak.
The spring storms have been a boon for the state's ski industry, with Breckenridge, Vail and Copper Mountain reopening for three days last weekend after 2 feet of new snow. Aspen Highlands is extending its season through this weekend.
"Normally our rentals are slim to none this time of year," said Lawrence Brewster, manager at Crystal Ski Shop in Boulder. "But this past weekend, especially with major resorts ... opening later, we definitely noticed a significant increase."
Brewster estimated his shop had 10 times as many rentals as normal for this time of year.
"It's certainly a welcome thing," he said. "All the snow in March and April was keeping us a lot busier than normal."
Arapahoe Basin, which typically aims to stay open until June -- and sometimes makes it into July -- reported 16 inches of new snow earlier this week. Loveland Ski Area, which plans to close May 5, reported 18 inches.
As for runoff in Boulder Creek, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said although creek levels will be higher than those of the last few years, all indications are that they will still be average.
"We're going to have pretty good creek levels, but from what I've been seeing it will probably be normal," he said.
Pelle said even above-average runoff alone is normally not enough to spark flooding concerns.
"We're going to, no doubt, see increased runoff levels compared to the last few years especially, but we're not particularly concerned about flooding," he said. "It takes high creek levels followed by high rain to cause any flooding."
Pelle said the late snow has helped the vegetation, likely indicating Colorado will not suffer a repeat of 2012, when -- starting in March with the Lower Fork Fire in Jefferson County -- the state was ravaged by wildfires.
"This has been a completely different spring experience," Pelle said. "It has actually been wonderful. We're going to have a really, really green spring, and the fire risk will be put off for a period of time until the grasses dry out. It's been a welcome relief."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.