Still no snow in Aspen-area forecast
Snow, or recent lack thereof, is on everybody’s mind.
It’s been a really unusual season, so far. There was ample early-season snow, a prolonged dry period from the end of November to mid-December, then the tap turned on to cover the slopes for the holidays. Now it’s back to mini-drought.
Even though the overall snow totals are right there with last year, according to both Skico’s and the federal government’s yardsticks, the way the snow has fallen has made for trying times.
Last season, 41 inches of snow fell at Snowmass in November and 36 inches fell in December, according to Aspen Skiing Co. This season, the cumulative total for those two months is actually running ahead, according to Skico. There were 36 inches of snow in November and 61 inches of snow in December at Snowmass.
The first half of January was dry both seasons, but it was much drier this season, according to the ski patrol’s measurements. Snowmass received 27 inches of snow through Jan. 18 last season compared to just six inches for the month-to-date this season.
From Nov. 1 through Jan. 18, there has been 103 inches of snow this season. There was one more inch over the same period last season.
“We saw a 10-day stretch mid-December (2013-14) with no snow,” Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said after compiling a snow report. “We also had a two-week stretch in the second half of January with no measurable snow, leading up to the monster storm at the end of the month.”
The forecast is dry into the foreseeable future this January, but skiers are dreaming of another monster storm. So far, local skiers and riders seem to be taking the conditions in stride. There’s a widespread concensus that conditions have held up well despite the lack of fresh snow, but locals are getting tired of groomers.
This season, there was no snow between Nov. 27 and Dec. 13. Then it snowed 15 out of 18 days to close out December, according to records at Snowmass Ski Area and the Aspen Water Plant.
Skico’s ruler was consistent with the findings at the Aspen Water Plant at 8,161 feet in elevation. The water plant measured 32.30 inches of snow in November compared to a long-term average of 22.14 inches.
The water plant recorded 42.63 inches of snow in December compared to an average of 25.01 inches.
Statistics for January won’t be available from the water plant until after the month.
Hanle said cold night temperatures are preserving the snow on the slopes pretty well and snowcat operators are working their magic at night.
“Right now, though it is dry, it has not been too warm so we are maintaining the current snowpack,” Hanle said in an email.
The snowpack east of Aspen at an automated weather station is 115 percent of the median established between 1981 and 2010, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. That Snotel site is located at 10,600 feet.
Two of three Snotel sites in the Fryingpan Valley are measuring snowpack above the median. Three sites in the Crystal Valley show snowpacks below average.
The vast Roaring Fork Basin as a whole is 98 percent of the median.
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