Aspen snow falls short in November
December 1, 2011
ASPEN – The winter season is off to a dry start, though November snowfall at higher elevations actually outpaced last year’s snow totals for the month.
Last year, the resort enjoyed one of the snowiest Novembers in recent memory, as 33 inches of snow fell at the city’s water plant, at an elevation of 8,161 feet.
This year, the water plant recorded 1.71 inches of precipitation for the month of November, below the average of 2.04 inches. Snowfall in November measured 17.68 inches at the water plant; the average for the month is 22.17 inches.
The dearth of snow in town in November was not, however, reflected on the ski slopes. The upper slopes of Snowmass collected 41 inches of snow in November – more than the 36 inches that fell at the ski area during the same month a year ago. Still, most of this year’s snow came early in the month, with two storms during the first week of November.
The water plant recorded 8 inches of new snow on the morning of Nov. 2 and measured another 6 inches on Nov. 6. Other forecast storms were a bust, but the plant recorded 2.1 inches of snow on Nov. 14 and lesser amounts on other days.
The high temperature for the month was 56 degrees; the low dropped to 4 degrees on three different nights. Daytime temperatures were generally higher in the latter half of November than they were earlier in the month, pushing into the 40s or 50s on most days.
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Atop Snowmass, which opened for the season on Nov. 19, five days ahead of schedule, the Aspen Skiing Co. was reporting a 26-inch base and a 14-inch base at mid-mountain on Thursday. Eleven trails and 216 acres were open.
Aspen Mountain, which opened Nov. 24, had an 11-inch base on top Thursday, and a 13-inch base at mid-mountain. Twenty-two trails and 236 acres of terrain were open.
The start of December brings a shot at fresh snow in Aspen. The National Weather Service was predicting a 40 percent chance of snow showers Friday night and a 50 percent chance for snow on Saturday before clear skies resume their dominance on Sunday.
According to aspenweather.net, a few inches of new snow could fall Friday night and Saturday.
As for December a year ago, it was one of the warmest in decades, with rain falling in town in the middle of the month. The 16.73 inches of snow that fell at the water plant in December 2010 was well below the average of 24.8 inches for the month.