Warm winter | AspenTimes.com

Warm winter

Randolph E. Schmid
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

WASHINGTON ” Winter storms and snow notwithstand­ing, this winter still was warmer than average worldwide, the government reported Thursday.

The global temperature for meteorological winter ” December, January and February ” averaged 54.38 degrees Fahrenheit, 0.58 degrees warmer than normal for the last century, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra­tion reported.

Temperatures have been rising over recent years, raising concerns about the effects of global warming, generally attributed to human-induced impacts on the atmosphere.

While it was warmer than normal, the just completed win­ter was the coolest since 2000-01, which climate experts attributed to the presence of moderate-to-strong La Nina, or cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean, which can affect condi­tions around the world.

For the United States, this winter’s average temperature was 33.2 degrees, 0.2 degrees above the 20th century average. NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center said winter temper­atures were warmer than average from Texas to the southeast and along the Eastern Seaboard, while cooler-than-average temperatures stretched from much of the upper Midwest to the West Coast.

The agency said the winter was unusual for the above aver­age rain and snowfall in the Southwest, where La Nina usu­ally brings drier-than-average conditions.

For example, in January 170 inches of snow fell at the Alta ski area near Salt Lake City, Utah, more than twice the nor­mal amount for the month, topping the record of 168 inches that fell in 1967.

Mountain snowpack exceeded 150 percent of average in large parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Oregon at the end of February. Spring runoff from the above average snowpack in the West is expected to be beneficial in drought plagued areas.

In the northeast, February rain and snow helped make the winter the fifth wettest on record for the region. New York had its wettest winter, while Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, and Colorado to the West, had their second wettest.

Some locations had record winter snow totals including Burlington, Vt., which received 103.2 inches, 6.3 inches above the previous record set during the winter of 1970-71.

The Aspen Skiing Co. reported 10 inches of new snow on Aspen Mountain in its Friday morning snow report. Snowmass and Buttermilk both picked up 8 inches in the past 24 hours, while Aspen Highlands got 7 inches.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for Friday, March 14:

The avalanche danger in the Aspen zone will rise to considerable on all slopes near and above treeline overnight. Human-triggered avalanches are still possible on steeper slopes. Look out for areas where some older winds slabs exist in the upper snowpack. Below treeline, avalanche danger today is moderate.

Go to http://avalanche.state.co.us/ for the full report and information on conditions statewide.