Right up there with tree ring studies | VailDaily.com

Right up there with tree ring studies

Don Rogers

The condition even has a name: Pacific Decadal Oscilla-tion. According to the federal scientists, the ocean is switching back to the cool phase that lasted from 1942 to 1977, before switching to the warm phase that lasted from 1977 to 1999. The regional climate was marked by less snow and fewer summer rains in the warm phase.

Oh, oh.

But such studies are worth a grain of salt, a drop in the bucket. A study by Cal Tech back in the early ’80s, during an El Nino episode that brought Southern California unseasonal rain during late summer, for instance, suggested California was in for a prolonged wet spell – decades long, if memory serves.

So what happened next? That’s right, a drought of several years.

The advice for water managers is certainly prudent, whatever the crystal ball powers of the the Northern Pacific. That is, be ready for lasting dry weather and less water in the Colorado River. Um, duh.

The scientists arrived at their forecast by comparing precipitation in the Colorado River basin to ocean temperatures over the past 100 years. (Was anyone really taking regular North Pacific temperatures 100 years ago?)

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist wasn’t buying it, though, according to The Associated Press, which reported the story this week. He said the study only looked at low elevation sites and not the mountains that capture winter snows.

Then again, that sounds a lot like this winter in Eagle County, where Vail Mountain is getting all the snow while the valleys are looking pretty free of the white stuff.

Cut off the nose

As states go, Colorado is dumb about tourism. That’s a little surprising, considering how popular this beautiful part of the country is with the rest of America. And maybe that’s the problem. We’re so good we don’t think we need to work at it.

But it’s positively brain dead for Colorado to rank 40th in funding for tourism marketing with this state’s potential and reliance on the industry.

The governor declaring wide-eyed, like a Woody doll from “Toy Story,” that the whole state is burning up last summer has nothing on failing to fund tourism initiatives. Colorado climbed up to $5 million for such marketing this year. Hawaii, by comparison, invested $60 million. At least some legislators would like to bump tourism funding up to $25 million, to capture a far, far greater return. In these budget-slashing times, that’s awfully progressive thinking.


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