Snowpack research continues on the Grand Mesa

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MESA, Colo. (KJCT) -- Above average snow pack up on the Mesa, has the mesa lakes Lodge Owner rejoicing.

"I’ve seen the numbers climb quite a bit this year more than ever,” said Mesa Lakes Lodge owner Andy Brito. “People come up here and are like wow!”

Brito says it’s good for business.

"With warm temps it brings a lot of people out here. The weather it just fantastic, its perfect conditions to go out and play with the kids,” said Brito.

We reported last week that hundreds of scientists and researchers are staying up on the Grand Mesa to analyze the snowpack and its effect on the Colorado River come spring.

Now we have an in-depth look at how they do the research.

"Right now we have a lot of uncertainly in our runoff forecast that has implications, of course the economy, when and where to plant crops," said Kelly Elder with the U.S. Forest Service.

Hundreds of scientists are participating in this month-long research project, using multiple types of machinery at observation sites.

Another goal of all of the equipment is not only to measure depth of the snow but also the density, which means figuring out how much moisture is in the snow if it would melt.

"One of the problems right now in the west, is knowing how much to let the reservoirs down, to anticipate how much snow is coming in. That would be an improvement on the whole system,” said Kelly Elder with the U.S. Forest Service.

They hope these observations will gather data to help bring in new technology which will obtain more accurate readings of snow pack measurements in the future.

“One of the main goals is to try and prepare NASA to be prepared to launch a satellite, water that is contained in the seasonal snowpack,” said HP Marshall, at Boise University who is participating in the project.

"Snow pack varies over really short distances. We are not able to take what’s going on in between them. So the advantage form doing it in an aircraft is the large spatial coverage,” Marshall said.

The scientists have been rotating out each week staying at the Mesa Lodge, which means it’s closed to the public until the project is over on March 1.

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