With snow falling at the top of Independence Pass and other mountain peaks Wednesday night, visions of the upcoming winter and the amount of powder that will make or break it are starting to dance in the heads of local skiers and snowboarders.
Ryan Boudreau, a forecaster with AspenWeather.net, said the 2013-14 ski season in the Aspen area ought to be a good one. There is no La Nina or El Nino weather effect in play this year to mess things up.
“I think it’s going to be a great winter,” Boudreau said. “We’re calling for a normal to above-normal winter.”
The prediction for decent or better snowfall in the Colorado Rockies also is expressed in the latest versions of the Old Farmer’s Almanac and the Harris Farmers’ Almanac, annual publications that have hit newsstands within the last two weeks.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which has advised farmers, gardeners and others involved in weather-dependent industries and hobbies since 1792, is bullish on the intermountain region’s upcoming snowfall totals.
The almanac says that “winter will be much snowier than normal, with near-normal rainfall. The snowiest periods will be in late November, early and mid-December, mid- and late January, mid-February and early March.”
Temperatures in the southern areas of the region, which would include the Western Slope, will be near normal, with the coldest periods in mid-December, mid- and late January and early to mid-February, the almanac states.
The Harris almanac, first published in 1692, doesn’t wrap up the forecast for the western half of Colorado in a short statement but calls for regular snowfall, as well.
For example, the Harris guide calls for slightly below-normal temperatures and slightly above-normal precipitation for the area in December, pinpointing three separate heavy snowfall periods for Dec. 2 to 5, 13 to 16 and 26 to 30: “An unsettled and windy month,” the publication states.
The best chances for snow in January, the Harris report adds, are Jan. 5 to 8, 15 to 20 and 24 to 28. As for April, the end of the season, the guide indicates slightly above-normal temperatures and slightly below-normal precipitation.
Average snowfall for the traditional ski-season months, as measured not at the area’s four ski mountains but at the city of Aspen’s water plant (8,200 feet) west of town, is 151.62 inches. Boudreau’s forecasting partner, Cory Gates, predicts a higher amount than that in the center of Aspen for the 2013-14 season: 171 inches.
Gates is making bold predictions for local ski mountains this year, Boudreau said. He puts Snowmass at 374 inches of snowfall for October through April and Aspen Mountain at 340 inches for the same period. Both predictions are well above normal.
Boudreau added that Gates’ predictions for the 2012-13 season, considered a below-normal snowfall year but not as bad as the previous season, were almost on the money.