Six degrees of separation
Aspen Times Staff Writer
The Roaring Fork Valley has seen significantly warmer and drier weather than average this month, weather watchers say.
Through the first three weeks of October the average high temperature in the valley was 66 degrees, according to officials with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. The 30-year average high for October is 60 degrees. The average low this year is 33.5 degrees, while the 30-year average is 28.4 degrees.
Average precipitation in Aspen for October is 1.48 inches, but this month, there has been only 0.61 inches.
The warm sun and crisp blue skies have provided Aspenites the chance to prolong summer activities late into the fall.
The Aspen Golf Club is reporting an “abnormally busy” October, and Torre, the Aspen Club’s head tennis pro, said lesson bookings are up 20 percent for this time of year.
U.S. Forest Service officials said large numbers of recreationists enjoyed the Maroon Bells last weekend. And the Aspen Recreation Department reported an “unprecedented” fall intramural season as not a single contest in weather-dependent sports such as soccer and flag football was canceled.
In Carbondale, irrigation ditches continue to flow – their normal shut-off date is Oct. 15.
For some, however, the warm, dry conditions are unwanted. The Forest Service rates the fire danger as “very high” in timber and “extreme” in shrubs, ratings that are a step up from normal for this time of year. Already this week, firefighters in the White River National Forest have quelled several human-caused fires.
Martha Moran, Forest Service recreation supervisor for the Aspen district, has mixed feelings about the weather.
“It’s great that people get to enjoy the forests and campgrounds this late in October, but there’s a danger too,” she said. “Although there are no fire restrictions at present, people should be aware of the danger of forest fires, even this late in the year.”
Some recreationists, too, are unhappy about the weather. The absence of snow during hunting season means big game are able to stay higher up in the mountains, making it harder for hunters.
And local winter-sport enthusiasts are starting to get nervous about the lack of precipitation. For some, the snow cannot come soon enough.
“If it snows next week, I sleep a lot better,” said Steve Sewell, Aspen Mountain manager.
The National Weather Service is predicting that a cold front will come through as early as this weekend.
But weather service officials believe the high-pressure front that has been the dominant weather feature this month will remain in place through November and December.
“Although this high-pressure front is not directly related to precipitation or snowfall, the warmer weather will affect [how long] snow stays on the ground,” John Kyle of the weather service said. “We don’t anticipate the warm weather to be as extreme in the next two months, however.”
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