Warm, dry fall isn’t a pattern yet | PostIndependent.com

Warm, dry fall isn’t a pattern yet

Seven-year-old Henry Smith plays catch with a buddy outside the Glenwood Springs Library during an unusually warm November afternoon.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

It’s been warm and dry for November in western Colorado, but it’s too soon to call it a seasonal trend.

“The temperatures across the Western Slope have tended to be five to 10 degrees above normal,” said Megan Stackhouse, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. “We’ve had a very persistent ridge of high pressure, which has just kept conditions on the warm and dry side.”

According to Stackhouse, that system is beginning to break up.

“Just because we’ve had a dry start to the fall doesn’t mean we’re going to have a dry end to the fall,” she said. “The winter’s still not clear yet in terms of what we’re going to see. It could really go either way in terms of precipitation.”

Currently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s three-month forecast calls for above-average temperatures in the Southwest, while Colorado sits on the tipping point between wet and dry trends.

While that’s not an ideal outlook for the ski season, Sunlight Mountain Resort assistant general manager Tom Hays isn’t panicking yet.

“It’s really too early for us to start worrying,” he said. “We’ve seen it all ways, and it can change in a hurry.”

Right now, Sunlight is slated to open Dec. 9, though an earlier opening is always welcome if conditions are right. In that respect, temperature may prove the most important, since snowmaking efforts can help make up for precipitation.

Meanwhile, the lack of snow is proving something of a respite for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

“We haven’t had to get our plows out much,” said regional spokeswoman Tracy Trulove.

Independence Pass remains open despite a planned closure date of Nov. 7.

“We’re going to keep it open until the first snowstorm is forecasted and looks like it’s moving into the area,” Trulove said.

Drivers can keep up to date on closures and conditions at cotrip.org. Trulove encouraged the public not to wait to get ready for winter.

“You should always be prepared this time of year,” she said. “In a minute this weather could turn into inches of snow.”

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