A look at snowfall, forecasted and realized, this past winter
Mother Nature had her work cut out for her this past ski season with the hype surrounding an El Nino winter.
In mid-September, AspenWeather.net threw its first-ever winter outlook party, where ski enthusiasts cheered at the prospect of a snowier season than average and an improvement from the previous winter.
During a PowerPoint presentation at the event, Ryan Boudreau of AspenWeather.net said he and fellow AspenWeather.net meteorologist Cory Gates predicted as much as 15 percent more snowfall than the average annual count from Oct. 1 through May 1.
Gates said the AspenWeather.net forecasts extend beyond the mountains’ open and close for people who take advantage of the backcountry before and after the resort season.
Altogether, the AspenWeather.net team’s forecasts were pretty close to what occurred Oct. 1 through May 1, most notably with the snowfall count at three of the four local mountains.
Gates, who acquires most of his local data from sensors at the Aspen Water Department, said Monday that snowfall from Oct. 1 through May 1 was up 11 percent over average.
Snowfall at Snowmass Mountain and Aspen Highlands from Oct. 1 through May 1 also was above average, and in some cases within a few inches of AspenWeather.net forecasts.
Aspen Mountain’s snowfall total, however, was down 4 inches from its average count.
Gates said AspenWeather.net often does not account for Buttermilk because the mountain is lower in elevation and there is less sensor data for him to access via Aspen Skiing Co.
Snowmass Mountain, which typically averages around 329 inches from Oct. 1 through May 1, received 349 inches of snow during that time.
That is 20 more inches of snow than average and 11 inches shy of the 360 inches that AspenWeather.net anticipated.
Highlands usually gets about 322 inches of snow from Oct. 1 through May 1; this season, the mountain received 335 inches — 2 inches greater than Gates’ predicted 333 inches.
Gates said that Aspen, Snowmass and Aspen Highlands mountains each received at least 60 inches every month from December through April — with the exception of February, in which the mountains received about half of that.
At the September 2015 outlook, Gates speculated that one month would offset the 2015-16 winter season.
Gates and Boudreau plan to host another AspenWeather.net winter outlook party at the Limelight Hotel sometime this September.
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