Near-record heat expected to continue for Summit County
September 28, 2010
SUMMIT COUNTY – Near-record heat has been sweeping through Summit County, and there’s no sign on the horizon the unseasonably warm temperatures will leave the area any time soon.
Temperatures in Summit County have been within a few degrees of record highs all month, according to Chad Gimmestad, meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder. According to Gimmestad, the warm daytime weather is expected to linger for at least the next seven to ten days.
“A persistent ridge of high pressure has kept the heat over us recently,” Gimmestad said. “We’re seeing phenomenal fall days where you need a long thermometer. That part is not so unusual, but there has just been no cooling at all.”
Rick Bly, National Weather Service observer in Breckenridge, doesn’t consider the air temperatures to be unseasonably warm, but the recent lack of precipitation could be to blame for the seemingly hot conditions.
“We only have about 35 percent of our normal September precipitation,” Bly said. “Perhaps it feels extra warm because we don’t have the afternoon showers to break up the weather.”
Either way, the warm fall weather may have led to an increase in tourism in the area.
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“September arrivals for Breckenridge Central Reservations are well above last year,” said Rachel Zerowin, public relations and marketing manager for the Breckenridge Resort Chamber. “We had ideal conditions for Oktoberfest last weekend in Breckenridge, and we saw a 33 percent increase in attendance versus last year.
“With hot temperatures all over the state, we’re not the least bit surprised to see an increase in tourism this fall.”
Local businesses such as Podium Sports in Frisco are not witnessing a significant increase in business, but they are enjoying the warm weather all the same.
“We have not been affected much, as this is still typically shoulder season,” said Brian Eggleton, general manager of Podium Sports. “The warm weather is keeping the locals out biking, so we are still seeing a lot of bicycle repairs.”
Either way, Eggleton considers the warm weather to be a positive for the area.
“As far as I’m concerned, it can stay like this until Thanksgiving,” he said.
While the daytime temperatures remain will remain relatively high, overnight lows should continue to drop, Gimmestad said. That is good news for local ski resorts, as most early-season snowmaking occurs at night.
Snow production relies on a measurement known as the wet-bulb temperature – essentially a combination of air temperature and humidity levels. Copper Mountain requires a wet-bulb temperature of 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum snowmaking conditions, according to David Roth, public relations guru for Copper Mountain.
“If (the wet-bulb temperature) is higher, the snow will melt. If it is lower, the snow will freeze,” Roth explained. “We tried making snow last night, but it was still a bit too warm.”
Those evening temperatures should continue to decline in the mountains, just not as quickly as in the plains.
“The lower areas will start to experience cooler nights, and that will work its way up to the mountains,” Gimmestad said.
Once temperatures drop to ideal snowmaking conditions for both resorts and Mother Nature, it will still be difficult to determine how much snowfall Summit County will experience this season due to its positioning with respect to the storm track during a La Nina season, such as this one.
“With a La Nina pattern, you can expect wetter conditions in the north and drier conditions in the south,” Gimmestad said. “The problem with Summit County and Denver is that they are right on the edge of the storm track. If it does not head too far north, the westerly winds should bring precipitation with them this winter. It’s just hard to say how much.”
SDN reporter Drew Andersen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.