Aspen’s February forecast makes you say Ruh-roh | AspenTimes.com

Aspen’s February forecast makes you say Ruh-roh

As the Jetsons' loyal dog Astro would say, "Ruh-roh."

That was my immediate thought Monday morning when going through emails. Open Snow, a commercial weather firm geared toward skiers, put out a new long-term forecast titled, "Storm track shifts north and east."

"As we head into February, it appears that the storm track will resemble the same pattern that we saw for much of December. That means lots of snow in the Pacific Northwest, the Northern Rockies, the Upper Midwest and the Northeast," wrote meteorologist Joel Gratz. "This pattern may continue through at least the middle of February, if not longer."

If February matches December, that's not good news for Aspen-Snowmass and many other resorts in Colorado. Aspen Mountain picked up 19 inches of snow in all of December. Snowmass managed to coax 26.5 inches out of Mother Nature. Aspen Skiing Co. said snowfall for November and December combined was about half of average at Snowmass.

January provided a bit of hope that winter might finally arrive. Snowmass has received 37.5 inches of snow for the month so far, though it looks dry for the final few days. Aspen Mountain has received 28.5 inches of snow for the month, according to the snowfall tracker at AspenWeather.net.

Aspen Skiing Co. said the averages for this month are 45 inches for Snowmass and 42 inches at Aspen Mountain.

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I thought the skiing was respectable at Snowmass on Saturday, thanks to recent shots of snow. I've been telling myself that maybe we would have a wild, wet second half to winter, but Gratz's forecast places that in doubt.

The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center doesn't offer much hope, either. The outlook released Friday indicated chances are good that Aspen's temperatures would be above average and precipitation would be below average for much of February. Central Colorado is considered abnormally dry while western and southwestern Colorado and eastern Utah are in a "severe drought." Drought conditions are expected to persist or develop in almost all of Colorado through April 30, according to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook.

The moral of the story might be to get out there while there's still snow rather than wait for more.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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