High Country Speaker Series salutes snow | VailDaily.com

High Country Speaker Series salutes snow

Daily Staff Report
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

AVON, Colorado ” The Sixth Annual High Country Speaker Series at the Avon Public Library gets underway Tuesday, with Denver 7News meteorologist Richard Ortner. The free program, sponsored by the Eagle Valley Library District and Gore Range Natural Science School, begins at 6:30 pm in the Beaver Creek Room.

In a salute to snow, this year’s High Country Speaker Series features three speakers who each bring a unique perspective on the magic, mystery, and danger of one of nature’s most captivating elements. On Tuesday, Ortner will discuss the science of snow, winter weather forecasting, and factors influencing wet and dry winters.

A Colorado native, Ortner has been fascinated with weather since he was a kid. “I grew up in Broomfield and vividly remember big snows and large hail as I was growing up,” Ortner says. “Then, I saw my first tornado while visiting my family in eastern Colorado. It definitely left an impression.”

Ortner first joined 7News in 1991 as an assignment editor. In 1993, he left KMGH to pursue a career as a meteorologist, with the goal of someday returning to Denver. Seven years later, the Emmy-award winning meteorologist returned to Denver’s 7 with master’s degrees in both meteorology and journalism. While weather is Ortner’s passion, he has a keen interest in environmental reporting.

“Everything on our planet is interconnected,” Ortner says. “Even minor changes can have major impacts on the overall system.” This ultimately plays a role in forecasting snowfall, which according to Ortner can be quite challenging unless it’s a major storm. “Heavy snow seems much more obvious,” he says.

Snow is by far his favorite weather event, though severe weather is a close second. Richard’s favorite weather memory is the blizzard of 1982, when 3 feet of snow fell at his home in Broomfield.

On Feb. 11, Karen Land will share her journey from sled dog apprentice and caretaker to a qualifying Iditarod musher. Land competed in the over 1,150-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 2002, 2003 and 2004. She is also a writer and speaker who brings her love of dogs to all she meets. Joining Land to talk about the Iditarod will be her dog Borage.

Lastly, 30-year Colorado Department of Transportation veteran Ken Wissel will close out the series on Feb. 26 with a fascinating look at what it takes to keep our high country roads safe in winter. He’ll share footage and slides of past and present avalanche activity from Denver to Vail.

The High Country Speaker Series is free, but space is limited. Advanced registration is recommended by calling the Avon Public Library at 949-6797.

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