Yes, it is snowier than usual in Aspen — about 51% snowier than average
Snowfall in Aspen is pacing well ahead of average this ski season thanks to a big opening blast in October and above-averages dumps in December.
The Aspen Water Treatment Plant recorded 84.70 inches of snowfall for October through December, according to the monthly weather reports. That is 28.45 inches or 51% above the average of 56.25 inches, according to the water department’s records.
Each month has been well above average at the plant, which is situated at 8,161 feet, slightly above downtown Aspen’s elevation. The cold-weather months started with a bang when 26.70 inches of snow fell in October. The average is 9.20 inches.
November was closer to typical conditions when 23.50 inches fell, the water department reported. The average snowfall for the month is 21.90 inches.
December kept the trend going with 34.50 inches of snowfall, well above the average of 25.15 inches.
None of the months came close to breaking a record for snowfall. The December record, for example, is 72 inches in 1983.
More snowfall than usual at the 8,100-foot level hasn’t translated into a significantly higher snowpack than average at higher elevations. The snowpack at the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River east of Aspen is at 107% of median as of Friday, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a federal agency that has automated snow telemetry sites scattered around the Roaring Fork watershed.
The snowpack at the Independence Pass site was at 7.7 inches of snow water equivalent — the amount of water produced when the snow is melted. Last year on the same date it was 7 inches.
The snowpack at the headwaters of the Crystal River Valley was 97% at Schofield Pass and 97% at McClure Pass as of Friday.
The snowpack at the headwaters of the Fryingpan River Valley was 147% at Ivanhoe Lake and 131% at Kiln, according to the snow telemetry sites.
Skiers and snowboarders will gladly take more of the same that’s been dished out so far this winter. Snowfall at the water plant in January is typically 26 inches. Snow is in Aspen’s forecast later this week.
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Another hot, dry month in the Roaring Fork Valley has got firefighting officials on high alert.