Aspen sets record for snow in April
ASPEN – If it felt like the snow never stopped in April it wasn’t just your imagination.
Aspen appears to have set a record with 36.35 inches of snow for April, barely eclipsing the old mark of 36 inches for the month in 1970, according to Charlie Bailey, water treatment supervisor with the Aspen Water Department.
The department tracks Aspen’s precipitation for the National Weather Service. The report hasn’t been filed for April yet, so the numbers are unofficial, Bailey said.
The city has snowfall data dating back to the winter of 1934-35. April snowfall has exceeded 3 feet only a handful of times in 75 years. The average for the month is 15.42 inches.
Aspen also set an apparent record for total precipitation for the month at 3.96 inches, Bailey said. The old record was 3.87 inches in April 1999. The precipitation data dates back to 1951.
It snowed so much late in the season that the Aspen Skiing Co. extended the season for two weekends on Aspen Mountain. Skiers who skinned up Aspen Mountain last weekend or used snowmobiles to make laps found amazing conditions after a big dump on Thursday morning.
Even so, the Aspen-area snowpack remained below average, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The snowpack for the Roaring Fork basin was 74 percent of the 30-year average on Tuesday afternoon. At the agency’s Independence site east of Aspen, the snowpack was 83 percent of average.
In the Fryingpan Valley, the snowpack ranged from a high of 98 percent of average at Ivanhoe to exactly average at Nast. Ivanhoe is the highest snow-measuring station in the Fryingpan Valley and Nast is the lowest.
In the Crystal drainage, the snowpack was at 80 percent at Schofield Pass and 62 percent at McClure Pass.
The conservation service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reported that snowpack was below average in all of the major river basins in Colorado on May 1 – despite cold and snowy weather over the last half of April.
“For the most part, any gains we saw during the last week of April were far surpassed by the melt we saw earlier in the month,” said Allen Green, state conservationist with the NRCS.
Colorado’s statewide snowpack decreased to the lowest reading of the season on May 1 at only 78 percent of average.