forecasts that local skiers will rejoice once again |
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Cory Gates talks about his predictions for the 2019-2020 winter season at a party hosted by the local micro-forecaster subscription service at Mi Chola in Aspen on Thursday.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times


Here are’s snowfall forecasts for 2019-20 from Oct. 1 to “early May”:

Aspen Mountain: 285 to 321 inches

Aspen Highlands: 305 to 341 (more in the Bowl)

Snowmass: 310 to 346

Normal: 285 to 320

Aspen skiers will rejoice again this winter because of the snow conditions, meteorologist Cory Gates predicted Thursday night.

Snowfall totals at Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk probably won’t be as prolific as last season, he said, but there is a good chance that precipitation will be normal to slightly above. is an online, subscription-based micro-forecaster for the Aspen areas and the four uppervalley ski areas. The 8-year-old service typically throws a winter outlook party. This year’s shindig was at Mi Chola.

Gates’ forecast for snowfall totals between Oct. 1 and “early May” are 285 to 321 inches at Aspen Mountain, 310 to 346 inches at Snowmass and 305 to 341 inches at Aspen Highlands (with more in Highland Bowl). He didn’t include Buttermilk in his forecast.

The normal snowfall is 285 to 320 inches, so he foresees Highlands and Snowmass a little above average and Aspen Mountain dead on. partner Ryan Boudreau called Gates a “gold-medal winning meteorologist” who typically nails his predictions for snowfall. Gates acknowledged he was on the low side last season, but no one was complaining.

For this season, Gates foresees a slow start to the season, with dry conditions in October and November. It will be almost the opposite of last season, when Aspen Mountain opened early because of great natural snowfall and snowmaking conditions.

“Do not expect that this year,” Gates said. “It’s going to be a slow start.”

A slide projected on a screen asked, “Does that mean we’re going to be screwed? No.”

Because of the slow start, he predicted prolific snowfall will fall during the heart of the season to bring totals back to average. He had one caveat — there could be a dry period buried somewhere in the season.

Gates said he bases his Aspen-area forecasts 40% on current trends, 20% on models and 40% on past seasons with similar conditions. He sees this late summer as a blend of August 2013 and 2014, when warm conditions yielded to cold conditions along the West Coast of the U.S., creating a jet stream favorable for central Colorado for the winter.

The winter of 2013-14 was one of the best ever for snowfall while 2014-15 was average. However, he warned that January 2015 was one of the driest for the month in Aspen’s history.

“It tells you we might have one bad month,” Gates said of this season.

He stressed that there will be numerous days without sunspots this winter and that will have a dramatic impact on the winter weather. Data show low solar often results in “lots of snow.”

For example, 2007-08 was a low solar year that resulted in lots of snow.

“It’s no guarantee it’s going to kick our butts again, but it’s a trend,” Gates said.

Gates took a shot at scientists — the vast majority of them — who are forecasting global warming due to release of greenhouse gases. He claimed they are wrong because their data comes from urban islands where temperatures are showing warming because of all the asphalt. That’s skewing the data, he contended.

He predicted a low solar period for the “next umpteen years.” That will result in the Northern Hemisphere cooling over the next decade.

“The global warming fanatics will be proven wrong,” Gates boldly proclaimed.

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