Snow is low, but the future is not set

Still time for a turnaround

By Aimee Eaton

For the first time in a while the weather guy at CBTV-10 is calling for cautious optimism as a weather system heads out of the Northwest toward Crested Butte this week.

In the Tuesday report, Noah Wight wrote, “The dynamics on this front are improving every day and I’m cautiously optimistic that there is a holiday surprise hiding in here. Do that snow dance and think snow.”

The storm, should it appear, would be a step out of the snow drought Crested Butte and the surrounding areas are currently experiencing and, while this year seems especially dry, there’s still time for a big change.

According to Open Snow’s Joel Gratz, five of the past 36 seasons had a snowpack within 25 percent of this season as of November 30. The snowpack during three of those five seasons ultimately went well above average, and December was a big month during two of those three seasons. Gratz added, “This year is low, but eight other years were as low or lower with snowfall from October 1 through December 17.”

Gratz’s summary? There’s still time for a big season. “Two of those eight years had near-average snow for the rest of the season, three years had a lot of missing data, and the other three years had 50 to 70 percent of average snowfall for the rest of the season.”

The lowest snow year on record for Crested Butte was 1976-1977, when town records reported a total of 61 inches falling, and December totals topped out at 2.8 inches. No snow was recorded in either January or February. For this year, Open Snow is reporting two inches so far in December, and Crested Butte Mountain Resort is stating 28 inches for the season.

Cautious optimism.

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