In the Yampa Valley and throughout Colorado, we get the vast majority of our water from snow.
The amount (depth) of snow the Yampa basin receives during the winter is one important indicator of how much water we will have in our streams and rivers the following spring, but not all snow is the same in terms of the amount of water it provides.
One way to assess snowpack is by looking at its snow water equivalent (SWE). SWE, pronounced “s-wee”, is a measurement used to determine how much water is in the snowpack. Peak SWE is the date during the year when the snowpack reaches its maximum SWE. The timing and magnitude of peak SWE is used to estimate the amount of water expected to runoff into our rivers and streams during the spring and summer months. Our regional water and resource managers use these values to plan for water use decisions related to agriculture, recreation and flood management.