Boulder County Lagging in Snow, Potential Grows in Coming Weeks
Even after a few inches of snow on Wednesday night, Boulder County has seen below average snowfall this season, but is actually still ahead of last year’s totals and could see more moisture in the coming weeks.
Boulder saw 2.1 inches overnight Wednesday, according to local meteorologist Matt Kelsch, the first time Boulder has seen measurable snowfall since Nov. 8 and the first time it has seen measurable moisture of any kind since Nov. 21.
The National Weather Service also reported that Longmont received about 0.4 inches of snow, the first time it has seen measurable snowfall since Nov. 7.
If it has seemed like an unusually dry winter so far, that is because it has been. Kelsch said Boulder averages 26.3 inches of snowfall by Dec. 15. So far this year, Boulder has only seen 14.2 inches.
But Kelsch also pointed out that Boulder is actually ahead of last year’s pace, when the city only saw 12.2 inches of snow through Dec. 15. In 2010, the city had a minuscule 2 inches by that date.
“Although it has been dry this year, it hasn’t been the driest on record,” Kelsch said.
Kelsch said a high pressure ridge on the west coast has been the reason for the dry weather.
“The same pattern that is bringing the very dry weather to California and has caused all those fires doesn’t allow a lot of moisture to get into Colorado,” Kelsch said. “We don’t see any big storms with this pattern.”
The lack of moisture has been felt in Boulder County and across the state. Eldora had to delay its opening due to a lack of snow, while snowpack statewide is about 58 percent of normal.
Justin Burger with Crystal Ski Shop at 1933 28th St. in Boulder said the lack of snow has impacted some of their business.
“We haven’t rented out a lot of cross-country skis or snowshoes,” Burger said. “It’s been tough to find terrain.”
But Burger said the shop hasn’t seen season-long rentals suffer as much.
“People are optimistic that the snow will come, even if it is a little later,” Burger said. “It’s been a little dry and warm down here on the Front Range in particular, but the mountains have gotten some snow and it’s been cold enough that they’ve been able to crank up the snow making and get some solid base going on some of their more popular runs.”
Burger said that peak ski and snowboard season for locals is after the holidays anyway, so he said as long as Colorado sees some snow by mid-January, they should be fine.
“People visiting for the holidays are going to go up regardless,” Burger said. “Then the locals will start hitting the mountains a little more aggressively at the end of December, beginning of January, so it’s still looking OK as long as we get some snow by then.
“And it’ll be well received.”
Kari Bowen with the National Weather Service said that, while there aren’t any huge storms in the forecast, she anticipates there will be more moisture in the coming weeks.
Boulder County could even see some snow as soon as Saturday, with the weather service calling for a 20 percent chance of snow.
“Looking at the long-term models, I’m seeing (the high-pressure ridge) start to weaken and break down a bit,” Bowen said. “We won’t get anything too extreme, but a little bit of snow here and a little bit there. It will be better than what we were seeing.”
Mitchell Byars: 303-473-1329, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/mitchellbyars