a little snow measurement history on Red Mountain Pass

Looks like 3rd snowiest March and 3rd snowiest month on record. Snow/weather recording began the winter of 1971-72.  The record for  total snow on RMP was in 1974-75 with 505.5″ followed by 429.75″/2010-11 and 424″ in 2004-05. Through the end of March this year RMP snow total is 334″


March 2019 ~ RMP 110.5”/9.8”  SWE


Comparing 44  yrs of history (1983/84-86/87 data unfortunately missing) of RMP study plot (SWE/Snow Water equivalent) the month of March 74-75 recorded 116″, 82-83 the year the big juicy storms didn’t begin until March then continued through May, totaled 114″.  Tim Lane and Jerry Roberts were working the San Juan Project in Silverton measuring snow and sweeping storm boards through the end of May of 83 (April/May  definitely recorded over 100″ at least in my mind) when the Glenn Canyon Dam was breached with flood waters of the Colorado River…

Read some of the history below.  *

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*In May 1983, three years after Lake Powell had first filled, an unusually long-lasting winter over the 108,335-square-mile (280,590 km2) Colorado River basin, with increased snowfall as a result of the 1982-83 El Niño event, above Glen Canyon Dam ended with a sudden influx of warm weather. Rain and snowmelt joined together to produce a combined inflow of over 111,500 cubic feet (3,160 m3) per second,[11] however, the Bureau of Reclamation predicts that the probable maximum flood at Glen Canyon is 697,000 cubic feet (19,700 m3) per second, almost 7 times that total, [6] and the average annual peak flow prior to 1963 was 93,400 cubic feet (2,640 m3) per second.[12] Glen Canyon Dam has two tunnel spillways, capable of bypassing 276,000 cu ft/s (7,815 m3/s).[13] Making use of part of the old diversion tunnels that were used when the dam was built, the spillways were thus more economical to construct, but have less capacity and must have at least 30 percent clearance between the water level and the tunnel ceiling.[14] The dam also has a set of river outlet works designed to release 15,000 cubic feet (420 m3) per second.[6] Finally, there are the releases from the power plant of the dam, which is capable of releasing 31,500 cubic feet (890 m3) per second.[15]

The releases from Glen Canyon Dam in May 1983


At the onset of the flood in 1983, several false weather predictions made the Bureau of Reclamation late in opening the spillways. At first, as inflows exceeded normal levels, the penstocks were opened to full release, and as inflow continued to rise, the river outlet works were also opened, discharging more water into the river below. The reservoir, however, continued to rise, and Reclamation finally decided to raise the floodgates. Other than test runs, this was the first time that the spillways had ever been put into operation for practical reasons, this time running at 20,000 cubic feet (570 m3) per second per tunnel. In several days, noticeable vibrations began to make themselves felt in the dam wall and surrounding rock. A close examination of water exiting the spillways revealed noticeable debris, including sandstone, which signaled severe erosion taking place. Reclamation responded by reducing releases by half, however, the rumblings continued, and it was not long before the spillways were shut down completely for examination.[14] The rumblings were so notable that a worker in the employee dining room, located near the power plant, was reported to say that it “sounded like the barrages that he had experienced in Vietnam”.[16]

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~



One of the early chapters of the Emerald Mile provides a nice weather synopsis for the winter of  1982-83 that created the above average snow/water situation in the Colorado & Green River basins that caused the epic flooding and near destruction of the Glenn Canyon Dam that Ed Abbey so badly wanted to see. At least it made him hopeful.




From one of Outside magazine’s “Literary All-Stars” comes the thrilling true tale of the fastest boat ride ever, down the entire length of the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon, during the legendary flood of 1983.

In the spring of 1983, massive flooding along the length of the Colorado River confronted a team of engineers at the Glen Canyon Dam with an unprecedented emergency that may have resulted in the most catastrophic dam failure in history. In the midst of this crisis, the decision to launch a small wooden dory named “The Emerald Mile” at the head of the Grand Canyon, just fifteen miles downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam, seemed not just odd, but downright suicidal.

The Emerald Mile, at one time slated to be destroyed, was rescued and brought back to life by Kenton Grua, the man at the oars, who intended to use this flood as a kind of hydraulic sling-shot. The goal was to nail the all-time record for the fastest boat ever propelled—by oar, by motor, or by the grace of God himself—down the entire length of the Colorado River from Lee’s Ferry to Lake Mead.

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