Almanac sees mixed bag for Aspen winter forecast
Ryan Summerlin September 18, 2012
ASPEN – A publication that nailed the forecast for a mild and dry 2011-12 winter in Colorado is predicting a slightly sweeter campaign for skiers and snowboarders in 2012-13.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac hit newsstands Friday with its extensive regional weather forecasts. It predicted “slightly below normal” temperatures in the southern part of the Intermountain Region, which includes the mountains of Colorado. Its forecast was a mixed bag for winter precipitation.
“Precipitation will be below normal in the north and above normal in the south,” the publication said. “Snowfall will be above normal in northern Utah and southwest Wyoming and below normal elsewhere.”
The publication said to expect snow on or around Christmas, followed by a sunny and cold period. It also said the Intermountain Region could expect a cool and dry April and May.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac earned some credibility for its forecast last winter. In September 2011, it told readers to expect winter temperatures to be above normal for the southern section of the Intermountain Region and for precipitation and snowfall to be below normal. That turned out to be prophetic, to the chagrin of skiers and snowboarders. February was the only month that resembled a regular winter.
The only part of the Old Farmer’s Almanac forecast that was wildly off base for 2011-12 was the prediction that April and May would be much cooler and snowier than normal. The drought was already taking hold by April and hitting full force by May.
The 2013 Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac, a different publication in the same vein, has forecast “near normal” or slightly above-normal precipitation for the Rocky Mountain Region in November, December, January and February. It predicted slightly below-normal precipitation for March and April for the Rockies.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac makes a bigger show of its weather section in the annual edition. It says its weather forecast was derived from a “secret formula” devised by the founder of the publication, Robert B. Thomas, in 1792.
“Thomas believed that weather on Earth was influenced by sunspots, which are magnetic storms on the surface of the sun,” the almanac reported. It claims its forecast are “almost always very close” to their traditional claim of 80 percent.
Meanwhile, the high peaks surrounding Aspen were dusted for a second time Monday morning. The Nov. 22 opening day at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass is creeping closer. Aspen Highlands opens Dec. 8, and Buttermilk will open Dec. 15.
The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center indicates Colorado’s mountains will see above-average temperatures over the next three months and an equal chance for precipitation to be above, equal to or below normal.