January brings below-average snowfall, warmer temperatures to Summit County
January was drier and warmer than average, but weather forecasters are calling it nothing to worry about for Summit County and other Colorado mountain communities.
In Breckenridge, January brought about 14 inches, just over half of the 30-year average snowfall of 23 inches, according to Kyle Fredin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder.
That dry spell fits with winter’s normal ebb and flow, he said. Plus, cumulative snowfall for the season is tracking above average.
As of Wednesday, Breckenridge has seen 106.9 inches of snow this winter, and the 30-year average is 86.8 inches.
Most of the season’s snow arrived between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16. Then a dry period from Thanksgiving to mid-December was followed by heavy snow around Christmas and steady snowfall from Dec. 21 to Dec. 29.
January started cold with an arctic blast and then warmed up significantly. The heaviest day of snow for the month was Jan. 20, when Breckenridge received 6.7 inches during a three-day storm that brought 9 inches.
Higher on the summits of Summit County, snowfall has been tracking near or just below last season’s heavy precipitation.
“Those peaks up there get gargantuan amounts, and they vary just as much,” Fredin said.
The four SNOTEL sites in Summit County measured snowpack in the Blue River Basin on Wednesday at 118 percent above the median.
As a whole, the Upper Colorado River Basin is 95 percent above average in water content as of Tuesday, before snowfall from the latest storm.
Following the Colorado River south across the West, however, most areas remain in drought and are recording much below averages for water supply.
For the Denver area, January brought a temperature range from minus 10 degrees early in the month to 75 degrees on Jan. 27, just short of the record high of 76 degrees for the day.
Those temperatures are to be expected, Fredin said. “They say the biggest secret living on the Front Range is 70s in January, and we just had it.”
Most Summit County ski areas reported zero to 2 inches overnight Wednesday morning with 7 to 9 inches accumulating throughout the day.
At Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, spokeswoman Adrienne Saia Isaac said a drier January hasn’t kept skiers away.
“January was an incredibly busy month for us,” she said. “People were still having a blast.”
Late December snowfall set up the snow at A-Basin through January, and skiers and snowboarders enjoyed the warmer than average temperatures, she said.
Fredin said January is typically the driest of the six months from November to April, and snow enthusiasts can look forward to the snowiest months of winter yet to come.
The average snowfall for February in Breckenridge is 23.4 inches, and March and April usually bring more.
The forecast for the next 10 days, he said, shows the warmer, drier pattern should continue. He predicted a chance of snow Saturday night through Sunday and another storm arriving next Tuesday through Thursday.
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