Snowpack news: Aspen’s January one of the driest ever


From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

Aspen’s January snowfall was the second lowest amount for the month since 1935, according to the record keepers at the Aspen Water Treatment Plant.

Only 5.26 inches of snow were recorded for the month, according to a report filed Monday by Laura Taylor.

“Average snowfall for this month is 25.74 inches,” Taylor wrote. “This minimal snowfall is the second lowest recorded here since January 1935. Back in 1961, the lowest snowfall for January was recorded at 5.0 inches.

The water treatment plant is on Doolittle Drive, near Castle Creek, at an elevation of 8,148 feet. Snowfall amounts at different locations around the Aspen metro area usually vary, but the water-treatment plant is the official National Weather Service station.

The station’s records show Aspen has received less than 10 inches of snow in January only five times since 1935 prior to this year. There were 5 inches in 1961, 6.5 inches in 1974, 9.9 inches in 1981, 9.25 inches in 1985-86 and 7.75 inches in 2002-03…

Joe Ramey, a forecaster and meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said precipitation was a mixed bag for western Colorado in January. Durango enjoyed one-half inch above average in total precipitation for the month, and Grand Junction also was above average, he said. Below-average precipitation was more common, he said.

“There’s been a big ridge just out to our west all of January,” Ramey said. “That ridge is really the culprit.”

That ridge of high pressure deflected storms to the north and to the south of the Aspen area. In the short term, Aspen could pick up a few inches of snow over the next few days from a series of weak disturbances, Ramey said. A wet spring is forecasted in the desert southwest and into the Colorado Rockies during March and into April.

“We’re hanging onto this wet spring” in the forecast, Ramey said.

Despite the lack of snowfall in January, the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s automated weather station near the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River said the snowpack there was 109 percent of average Monday.

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