Tuesday’s chill masked by sunny skies | SummitDaily.com

Tuesday’s chill masked by sunny skies

Lu Snyder

Lows temperatures around the county Tuesday:

Copper Mountain, 22 degrees below zero

Keystone, 21 below zero

Silverthorne, minus 10 degrees

Dillon Reservoir, 11 below

SUMMIT COUNTY – Tuesday’s frigid weather might not have been one for the record books, but weather watchers say it was one of the three coldest days yet this winter.

Monday’s snow storm was blown away by fierce winds at night. And as the skies cleared, the temperatures dropped. Temperatures around the county were well below zero at dawn Tuesday morning.

At Copper Mountain, ski patrollers recorded temperatures of 22 degrees below zero at 5 a.m.

Thermometers at Keystone read 21 below zero at 7:45 a.m., said communications coordinator Helen Hill.

“It’s cold, and I’m sure the hot chocolate consumption is up on the mountain,” Hill said.

A little downhill from the ski areas, temperatures were somewhat milder. David Fernandez, a Denver Water Board employee and caretaker at the Lake Dillon Reservoir, said the temperature was 11 below at the dam Tuesday morning. According to his records, the season’s low was 17 below on January 24.

Silverthorne – at one of the lowest elevations in the county – saw a morning low of minus-10 degrees, according to Don Day, president and meteorologist of DayWeather, a private weather forecasting company in Cheyenne.

“This was probably one of the top three coldest mornings we have seen this winter,” Day said.

The recipe for the coldest days, Day said, involves a combination of fresh snow and calm, clear nights. While Monday night was windy in Summit County, the fresh snow provided added reflection of the earth’s heat. And without clouds in the sky to reflect the lost heat back to the earth, Day said, there was nothing to prevent its escape.

“Fresh snow acts as a reflector,” he said. “It will take heat and reflect it, which cools things off even more.”

Winter’s coolest temperatures usually are recorded within an hour after sunrise, Day said.

The sun is at a very low angle at that time of day, “and the sun’s energy has to go through a whole lot of atmosphere.” As a result, heat continues to escape and temperatures might drop even though the sun is up.

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