4th snowiest early season ever
SUMMIT COUNTY – It probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s spent the last few weeks shoveling driveways, but snowfall for the month of December was once again above average in Summit County.It’s the first time since the 1995-1996 winter with four straight months of above-average precipitation, said Breckenridge weather watcher Rick Bly, referring to the current string of wetter-than-average months dating back to September.
Bly, who measures snow and rain totals for the National Weather Service, said he tallied 41.9 inches of snow for the month at his backyard gauge, a far cry from the record 149 inches in Dec. 1893, but 52 percent more than the long-term average of 21.9 inches. December didn’t bring anywhere near record snows, but if you take the 111 inches that fell in October, November and December, it adds up to the fourth-snowiest early winter ever, he said.Bly said the snow-water equivalent (melted snow) at his station was also well above average for December at 3.16 inches, compared to 1.48 inches. This total bodes well for water storage and runoff in the Colorado mountains, where all the northern river basins have above-average snowpack.
It wasn’t quite as snowy across the county near Dillon Reservoir headquarters, where Denver Water officials measured 21.5 inches of snow in December, slightly above the historic average 17.6 inches. That snow melted down to 1.23 inches of water, also slightly above the average 1.11 inches. In fact, as snowy as December seemed, daily snowfall totals at the Dillon site never exceeded 3 inches. But the snow cover persisted for the entire month ranging from 10 inches deep on Dec. 1 to a high of 15 inches on Dec. 31.
Temperatures ranged from a somewhat balmy 44 degrees on Dec. 27 all the way down to a frigid minus 24 on Dec. 8. On that same day, the high temperature only reached 1 degree, the coldest day of the month. The persistent snow cover likely helped keep the average maximum temperature for the month (averaging all the daily highs) to 26.4 degrees, almost 6 degrees below the historic average of 32.8 degrees.The average low temperature for the month was 2.8 degrees, slightly warmer than the average 1.1 degrees.
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