What’s next from Old Man Winter? | AspenTimes.com

What’s next from Old Man Winter?

ASPEN ” It was a December to remember for sure for skiers and snowboarders. But what’s up for the rest of the winter?

See for yourself what the folks at the National Weather Service see when they look at their crystal balls. (Boy, I bet they hate it when people say that.) The weather service’s Climate Prediction Center is a helpful tool to get an idea of general weather trends for the next couple of weeks as well as the next three months.

The Climate Prediction Center’s website address is http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/

It takes a while to figure out what you’re looking at, but fiddle around with it and you’ll catch on. Users can check out the temperature and precipitation expectations for a six- to 10-day outlook as well as an eight- to 14-day outlook. The website uses a U.S. map and different shades of colors to signify temperature and precipitation probabilities that are below average and above average for that time of year. White signifies “equal chances” of above and below average events.

For the record, our part of Colorado has an equal chance of precipitation being above and below normal for February, according to the one-month outlook map. Temperatures are expected to be above normal for all of Colorado in February.

The same patterns are foreseen in March and April by the Climate Prediction Center.

Long-term forecasts have their critics. The difference with the Climate Prediction Center’s data is that it isn’t a forecast for a specific area. They work with more general probabilities based on weather patterns. The agency’s eight- to 14-day outlook accurately foresaw heavy snows for the Roaring Fork Valley earlier this month before it popped up in regular forecasts.

So, use the information as another tool to study what Old Man Winter might dish out. Or forget about it and just look out your window each morning.

The Aspen Skiing Co. reported 4 inches of new snow over the past 24 hours at all local ski areas ” Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Highlands and Buttermilk, in its Friday morning snow report.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for the Aspen zone on Friday, Jan. 25:

With new snow and recent wind loading, we will hold the danger at considerable on north, northeast, east, and southeast aspects near and above treeline. Winds out of the S-SW-W have created some fresh slabs on these easterly aspects. The avalanche danger on all other aspects near and above treeline and all slopes below treeline is rated moderate.

You need to choose your terrain wisely. Good route finding and the ability to select terrain that is appropriate for the current conditions are two great tools to take with you into the backcountry this season. There is a lot of great riding out there now, but the snowpack demands a lot of respect. Consider the consequences of a wrong decision.

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