Aspen Weather: Expect the pow this winter
September 22, 2016
Aspen Weather isn't quibbling about snowfall this winter. Meteorologist Cory Gates is forecasting the kind of season that fills powder hounds' dreams.
Gates told an audience of a couple hundred people at the Limelight Hotel on Thursday night that the 2016-17 winter could be as epic as 1983-84, the snowiest winter on record in Aspen, and 1984-85, another wet season.
The reason for his optimism is a weak La Nina pattern, with cold temperatures in the Pacific Ocean waters combining with a Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
When that happens, he said, it equates to a "s—load" of snow in Aspen.
Aspen Weather is a micro-forecast service for subscribers. It can be found at AspenWeather.net.
Gates introduced a lot of meteorology terms and developments to back his claims at Aspen Weather's winter outlook party. He was smart enough to realize most people were there for the pizza, beer and a layman's explanation of what's going to happen this winter.
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Gates tended to get technical but reeled himself in at intervals to give the audience the straight dope. Numerous weather factors line up "perfectly" this year with 1983-84, he said, though there are "subtle differences."
The 1983-84 season started with a bang with the snowiest month ever for Aspen in both November and December, Gates said, while January "sucked and was dry." Gates believes this winter will start even stronger.
"I think in November we're going to get s—kicked," he said. December also looks favorable. The difference with '83-84 will come in January. He thinks it will be a big month for snow for Aspen this ski season. In fact, he said, there is a change Aspen will get "creamed."
Conditions will dry out during the middle of the season, but Gates still sees good late season snow.
Here was his bottom line: between Oct. 1 and early May he sees 368 inches of snow falling at Snowmass compared with 359 inches last season, 353 inches of snow at Aspen Highlands compared with 345 inches last season, 337 inches of snow at Aspen Mountain compared with 329 last season and 184 inches in the city of Aspen compared with 171 last winter.
Gates said he had a "confidence level of 9" in his forecast, presumably on a scale of 1 to 10. If he's right, he won't have much of a problem getting a beer in Aspen bars this winter.