Aspen Skiing Co.: “We’re not panicking” about the lack of snow |

Aspen Skiing Co.: “We’re not panicking” about the lack of snow

Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle said this warm of weather for this time of year "isn't unusual."
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

Temperatures are in the 60s, the snow on Aspen Mountain is sparse and the lifts are set to start spinning in less than three weeks.

Time to panic?

“No,” said Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle on Thursday.

“We always like to see colder temperatures at this point in the season, but this isn’t unusual,” Hanle said. “We’re not panicking.”

“For Colorado, El Nino and La Nina is not the best of indicator of what’s going to happen.” -National Weather Service senior meteorologist Larry Smith

Just prior to the ski season last year, data from the National Weather Service reveals that October 2015 experienced both a notably lower monthly precipitation count and a slightly higher temperature average than October 2016.

The total precipitation count for the month of October last year was a mere one-third of an inch, according to National Weather Service senior meteorologist Larry Smith, citing data collected at the Aspen water plant.

This compares with the 1.13 inches of precipitation that were recorded last month, Smith said, and a historic average of 1.8 inches for the month of October.

John Kyle, a data acquisition program manager at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said, “Much of western Colorado, including Aspen, is experiencing abnormally dry conditions.”

Overall, the temperature in Aspen throughout October averaged about 3 degrees warmer than the historic average but still half a degree less than the monthly average last year.

The average temperature last month was 47 degrees, while October 2015 recorded at 47.4.

In April, the National Weather Service and its partner, the Climate Prediction Center, issued a “La Nina Watch,” said Smith, who’s also based in the National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office.

In a nutshell, what this means is the storm systems, which carry colder temperatures and increased precipitation, are more likely to travel to the pacific northwest than they are to hit to this region of the country.

But fret not, ski bums and enthusiasts — Smith advised that Coloradans not read too far into El Nino or La Nina.

He said this is because the state is positioned in the middle of the weather systems’ route, where “you don’t necessarily see extreme conditions or changes with snowfall.”

“The north and the south (of the El Nino and La Nina path) are the best indicators,” Smith said. “For Colorado, El Nino and La Nina is not the best of indicator of what’s going to happen.”

To add another caveat to his winter outlook, he said the effects of an arctic oscillation could lead to storm systems sweeping the Western Slope.

Hanle said Skico hopes to fire up the snowmakers Sunday, as temperatures are expected to dip.

“We’re ready to pull the trigger,” Hanle said.

He noted that it would require “a drastic change” in weather for the slopes to open early this season.

Aspen and Snowmass Mountains are scheduled to open Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24.

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