#Snowpack news: All basins have dropped out of the average range

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS.

From Denverite (Erica Meltzer):

As of Sunday, Denver has gone 62 days with no measurable snow, and the National Weather Service forecast calls for mild temperatures and clear skies through the rest of the week.

We’ve had periodic cold blasts breaking up the sun and warmth and some dustings of snow along the way. But the last time we had measurable snow was Oct. 10.

The record for the season — defined as the time from first snowfall to last snowfall — is 69 days, from Nov. 26, 2002, to Feb. 2, 2003. We’ll break that record and hit 70 days without snow if we make it to Dec. 19. Not that that’s a record we should want to break.

This comes on the heels of the warmest November on record, as Colorado Public Radio reported. Despite the many warm days, it was higher than normal overnight lows that tipped us over.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

While western Colorado remains dry well into December, it’s far too early to draw conclusions, said Ryan Christianson, chief of the Water Management Group of Reclamation’s western Colorado area office.

This time of year in particular, “We’re trying to prepare for the dry and the wet at the same time.”

So far, 2017 doesn’t look all that different from 2016.

Snowpack in the Gunnison Basin is now 46 percent of average, a bit better than last year.

“Last year weather began to change by mid-December and so far we are not seeing that change coming this year,” Knight said.

The 10-day outlook on Friday anticipated no change in the high-pressure ride dominating the western United States, keeping skies clear over the Rockies and sending snow to Houston.

“We’re still early in the snow accumulation season,” said Aldis Strautins, service hydrologist with the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction. “That being said, we’re still watching it.”

Ute Water Conservancy District, the biggest supplier of domestic water in the Grand Valley, is watching with interest, but not worrying, General Manager Larry Clever said.

Some 80 percent of the snow season is still ahead for the Rockies.

“If it was February and this dry, we’d be looking at some things,” Clever said. “Right now, there’s no need to.”

From The Summit Daily (Allen Best):

…in Colorado, Aksel Svindal won the downhill at Beaver Creek on snow that was almost entirely human-manufactured. Farther south, in the Telluride area, where it had been too warm to make snow until after Thanksgiving, people last weekend were posting photographs on Facebook of a Lizard Head Peak almost entirely absent of snow. It looked like October.

This not necessarily unusual. “We all panic, but it always turns around,” Joe Raczak, manager of a condominium complex in Aspen, told The Aspen Times. Precipitation there in November was about half average, reported the newspaper. Warm temperatures exacerbated the dry conditions, hampering the snowmaking ability of the Aspen Skiing Co.

Snowmaking removes the uncertainty of early season, at least to a point, and serves as an insurance policy against drought.

But there are still limits. At Beaver Creek, there was too little snow for spectators to slip-slide down along the race course…

To make large volumes of snow as required to cover larger amounts of terrain requires below-freezing temperatures. Snow-making manufacturers say that this is unlikely to change. There are just basic immutable laws of physics.

With that in mind, it’s worth noting the latest reports about warming temperatures. NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in mid-November reported that October 2017 was the second warmest October in 137 years of records. The three warmest October globally have been in the last three years.

This analysis is based on data from 6,300 stations around the world, including meteorological stations, instruments measuring sea-surface temperatures and Antarctic research stations.

Jonathan Erdman, a senior meteorologist at Weather.com, also noted that the last three years — 2014, 2015, and 2016 — all set new global records for warmth.

This continues a theme of the 21st century. Sixteen of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred this century. Only one year from the last century, 1998, cracks the top-10 list of warmest years globally.

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map December 11, 2017 via the NRCS.

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