Summit County, CO ColoradoSUMMIT COUNTY The current snowy weather in Summit County marks the tail end of an active winter storm pattern, but climate specialist Klaus Wolter said there could be more unsettled weather in the weeks ahead.I still see a continuation of storms. The storm track is more north, but youll still see orographic lifting and cold air, said Wolter, a Boulder-based researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Wolter anticipates at least a few more waves of wintry weather in Colorados mountains.May snowfall is not unusual in the High Country. The average is 10.9 inches in Breckenridge and 7.4 inches at the Dillon weather site, where Denver Water officials track precipitation and temperatures for the National Weather Service.Beyond that, the outlook for late spring and early summer is still unclear, Wolter said. The National Weather Services Climate Prediction Center is calling for for above-average temperatures May through August in the western portion of the Rocky Mountain region.Early in the season, Wolter said the La Nia weather pattern (colder-than-average sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific) increased the chances for a dry winter. The mountain region bucked those odds, but other parts of the forecast region did end up dry, included the northeastern plains of Colorado, Wolter said.Drought conditions in eastern Colorado have worsened in the past four months, leading the Forest Service to predict an above-average fire potential for that area, as well as for much of the Rocky Mountain region.
The season-long pattern of surplus snow in the mountains continued in April, as weather watcher Rick Bly measured 29.7 inches at his backyard gauge in Breckenridge. Thats five inches more than the historic average for the month. But for the October-April snowfall season, Bly said 207 inches fell, 55 inches more than the historic average of 152 inches, based on records going back more than a century, making it the seventh-snowiest winter on record.All that snow melted down to 15.25 inches of water, about 32 percent more than the historic average of 11.5 inches for the six-month period.Bly said there were 108 days with measurable precipitation this winter, well above the average 63 days.April snowfall at the Dillon station totaled 18 inches, just slightly more than the average 17.3 inches. More notable were the weather readings, with both the average daily highs and lows remaining well below normal for the month. The average April maximum temperature was 43.2 degrees, compared to the historic average 47.7 degrees. The average monthly low was only 11.6 degrees, about six degrees lower than the historic average (17.3 degrees), based on records going back to 1909. Temperatures at the Dillon weather site only climbed into the 50s nine times during April, with the highest reading, 60 degrees, on April 24. There were two sub-zero readings early in the month, and nighttime lows dropped below freezing every single night.The local stats reflect a regional picture of colder-than-average temperatures.It was the coldest winter since the late 1970s, said Wolter. The biggest change was in the average daily highs, Wolter said. The cooler temperatures this winter marked a leveling off of a 30-year trend of warmer-than-average regional readings.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best: 1898-1899, 397.7 inches of snowWorst: 1980-1981, 57.4 inchesThis year: 207 inches, the seventh snowiest on record Rick Bly
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