Aspen defies weather predictions
Forecasting the weather this winter has been as difficult as hitting a Roger Clemens fastball. Just ask the folks at the Old Farmer’s Almanac.The almanac predicted a warm, dry winter for the region that includes Aspen and the rest of western Colorado. That forecast has been off a bit for Aspen (not that any skiers or riders are complaining), with 15 days of snow in December thus far.The snowpack in the Roaring Fork River basin was 19 percent above average – and significantly higher in spots – as of Monday morning. Halfway between Aspen and the summit of Independence Pass, the snowpack was 21 percent higher than the 30-year average.In the Fryingpan Valley, the snow level is well above average, according to the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service. At Ivanhoe Lake, snowpack was 87 percent above average. At Kiln, the snowpack was 38 percent higher, and at Nast the level was 50 percent more than normal.The Crystal Valley wasn’t faring quite as well. Snowpack at Schofield Pass was 1 percent below average. McClure was right at average and North Lost Trail, near Marble, was at 91 percent of average, according to the federal agency’s computerized measuring stations.The Aspen area has received more snow than the state as a whole. The snowpack for the entire Upper Colorado basin, which covers Colorado’s mountains and parts of Utah, is 92 percent of average, according to the NRCS.Conditions have not only been wet in Aspen, they’ve been cold. There were eight days in December when the low temperature fell below zero, according to National Weather Service records. It was a frigid minus 21 degrees on Dec. 8, a day after the mercury plunged to minus-15.The Old Farmer’s Almanac wasn’t entirely off its game in December, though. It predicted cold weather through Dec. 9. It was off the mark, however, when it said mid-December would be mild. Temperatures fell to minus 4 and colder for three straight nights starting Dec. 14.So what does the almanac see for the rest of the winter? Using what it calls “a proprietary technique” that’s been perfected over 214 years, it predicts that “mid-December through March will bring exceptionally mild temperatures, on average” with snow “well below normal.”But skiers and riders keep the faith. After all, even baseball’s best batters fail to get a hit about 65 percent of the time.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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