Winter weather hype machine hits high gear for Aspen and other ski resorts
The calendar has switched to September, so you know what that means: It’s time for the winter weather hype machine to shift into overdrive.
Have you heard the word? There’s a chance for a light to moderate El Niño and you know what that means, right? More snow than average. Well, maybe, unless it’s just a light El Niño, then it might not have any affect on snowfall in the Colorado Rockies at all.
After last season, I’m not banking on any long-range forecasts. It’s tough enough coming up with an accurate forecast three days from now, let alone three months. Last winter showed that just a few hundreds miles can mean the difference between feast (Jackson Hole) and famine (central Colorado) when it comes to snow.
So, let’s treat forecasting less as science and more like entertainment. The Farmers’ Almanac and Old Farmers’ Almanac already have taken center stage — with wildly different winter outlooks, though both look good for Aspen.
The Farmers’ Almanac, which has been around since 1818, is predicting “teeth-chattering cold ahead” for most of the country. Its website shows Colorado along with the Upper Rockies and Upper Plains marked by “teeth-chattering cold, plentiful snow.”
The Old Farmers’ Almanac, founded in 1792, is predicting a warm winter for almost all of the country. It shows Aspen on the border between “warm, wet” and “mild, snowy.” Either way it looks warmer than usual, so the question is will the precipitation come as rain or snow?
By March, we will know which of the venerable publications to trust, if either.
Meanwhile, even with the recent rain, the U.S. Drought Monitor kept all of Pitkin County, all of Garfield County and all but a tiny sliver of Eagle County in the “extreme drought” category in a new map released Aug. 30. The drought outlook places Pitkin County on the border between “drought persists” and “drought remains but improves” between now and Nov. 30.
The Climate Prediction Center’s three-month outlook shows a good chance for higher than average temperatures through November but also above average chance for precipitation.
I’m just going to hope for the best on the slopes for skiing — and plan to head to Fruita for cycling more often if it’s like last winter.
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A report released this month by the Center for Colorado River Studies says that in order to sustainably manage the river in the face of climate change, officials need alternative management paradigms and a different way of thinking compared with the status quo. Estimates about how much water the Upper Colorado River Basin states will use in the future are a problem that needs rethinking, according to the white paper.