Arctic temperatures follow snowy storm |

Arctic temperatures follow snowy storm

Cliff Thompson

EAGLE COUNTY – Arctic temperatures as low as -15 iced Eagle County’s valleys this week, chilling residents after last weekend’s big snowstorm.A -12 on Tuesday was a record for November. Nearly two feet of snow fell and temperatures arrived that are more suited to the depths of winter than the week after Thanksgiving. Clear skies, snow and the northern air mass caused nighttime temperatures to plummet and daytime highs to stay in the teens over most of the county. “Below zero in November is unusual,” said Avon resident Frank Doll, who has been following the weather here since 1968 and reports to the National Weather Service. “It gets cold, four, five or six degrees, but 12 below? No.”Many locals, like Minturn’s Harry Gray, who has spent 25 years here, distilled his feelings about the early cold conditions.”When this subzero (weather) gets here, it’s wintertime,” he said. Weather professionals, like Brian Avery of the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, use other verbiage to describe the cold.”Not only is the air cold, the snowpack tends to lower temperatures, too,” Avery said. “Until some of the snow melts out of the valleys, it’s going to remain unusually cold.”Warming snowTemperatures, however, are expected to moderate late Sunday when another snowstorm is expected to scour the cold air from the high country, Avery said. In the mean time, the cold lingers and temperature records are being tested across the state. A record low for November, -3 in Grand Junction, set in 1893, was equaled Tuesday, Avery said. The lingering cold snap brought a 60-degree temperature swing from last week’s 45 degree daytime highs. At the state’s icebox, Gunnison, the daytime high temperatures have struggled to reach zero. Nighttime lows have been as cold as -25.The cold has kept plumbers at Sibley Plumbing in Minturn scrambling as they thawed and repaired frozen pipes at homes that lost their heating systems, Chris Wyatt said. “We’ve had lots and lots of calls,” she said. “We’ve had all 10 guys out in the field.”The snowy roads and cold also kept the crew at the West Vail Shell station working around the clock, jump-starting cars and retrieving vehicles stuck in snowy ditches, Rick Dilling said. “It’s non-stop,” he said. “We’ve had five trucks day and night. In the last few days there’s been more than normal.”And the cold always seems to take its time leaving, Doll said.”When it’s clear there’s not clouds to hold the heat in,” he said. “When it’s clear it gets cold.”November’s weather, as recorded by Doll, saw a 72-degree temperature swing from the warmest – 60 on Nov. 6 – to Tuesday’s -12. A total of 22.7 inches of snow fell, mostly on the last weekend of the month. That’s five inches more than the 30-year snowfall average.The average cold temperature for the month was 22.4 degrees while the average warm temperature was 44.2.Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or cthompson@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

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