Snowpack news: ‘Mountain communities are hoping to get the attention of Ullr, Mother Nature and Old Man Winter with snow dances’

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

With below-normal snowfall — in some cases less than half the seasonal average — mountain communities are hoping to get the attention of Ullr, Mother Nature and Old Man Winter with snow dances, sacrificial bonfires and other ceremonies aimed at eliciting at least a few flakes.

The build the vibe, Colorado Ski Country USA is inviting everyone to spread the word via social media channels by posting videos on a special snow dance website.

Despite the lack of snow, Colorado is in better shape than some other parts of the country, thanks in part to extensive snowmaking, high elevation and relatively cold temps that have helped maintain the meager snow cover.

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

According to the January 6 readings from automated SNOTEL sites around the [Blue River basin], the snowpack at Copper Mountain is just 55 percent of average, with only 3.4 inches of snow-water equivalent, compared to the average 6.2 inches for this date. The Copper SNOTEL site is located at 10,550 feet. Precipitation for the weather year-to-date (starting Oct. 1) is a little closer to average, at 68 percent, with 5.2 inches compared to the average 7.7 inches, but the gap between the precipitation total and the snowpack total reflects the warm and dry weather which has eaten away at the snowpack. The other stations in Summit County are reporting similar readings. The Fremont Pass SNOTEL site (11.300 feet) is reporting a snowpack at 53 percent of average, with 4.2 inches of snow-water equivalent compared to the average 7.9 inches. Grizzly Peak (11,100 feet), near Loveland Pass and the Continental Divide, reports the snowpack at 62 percent of average, with 5 inches of snow-water equivalent compared to the average 8.1 inches. The snowpack at Hoosier Pass (11.400 feet) is at 67 percent of average, the highest reading in the basin, and Summit Ranch, in the Lower Blue, is at 56 percent of average. Farther west, the Vail Mountain SNOTEL site reports the snowpack at just 43 percent of average, with 4.3 inches of snow-water equivalent compared to the average 10 inches, while Independence Pass, above Aspen, is at 45 percent.

From Reuters (Rene Pastor):

The prolonged phenomenon [La Niña], although weaker than it was a year ago, threatens to roil commodity markets from corn to coffee as dry conditions in Argentina and Brazil whither crops while the southern United States — a prime growing area for cotton and some wheat — suffers through a once-a-century drought…

The effects of the current phenomenon are already being felt keenly in Latin America, where estimates for the 2011/12 corn crop from Argentina, the world’s No. 2 supplier, have been slashed by as much as a fifth, while Brazil’s soybean crop is also withering due to a prolonged dry spell. Without persistent rains within the next two months, Argentina’s soybean crop could also be at risk.

In the United States, an extended dry period could cause problems for farmers from the Carolinas to Kansas planning for sowing cotton in the spring, anlaysts said, particularly in top growing state Texas.

Ron Lawson, managing director of brokerage logicadvisors.com in Sonoma, California, said La Nina is worrying because conditions in parts of Texas are worse this year and could easily spread into the U.S. grain belt. “The conditions that exist today are identical to what existed before the Dust Bowl,” he said.

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