Weather records at Dillon station go back to the stagecoach days and show a gradual warming trend
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Just a few inches of new snow to report around the county, with 2 at A-Basin and Copper, although showers could continue today across west-facing slopes in the northern mountains before dying down tonight. Another Pacific storm moving inland could help juice up the atmosphere again late Friday into the weekend.
Keep your fingers crossed, just like water managers around the state, who are somewhat nervously watching the Colorado River Basin snowpack, which to-date, is tracking slightly behind the levels of the historic 2002 drought. The snowpack in the Upper Colorado Basin is at about 70 percent of average and has been trending downward in recent weeks.
A couple of big spring storms could easily bring the snowpack back to near normal levels, but for now, early drought preparations are under way. The biggest difference is that reservoir storage levels around the state are much higher than they were going into the 2002 drought.
This morning, I had a chance to visit with Dave Fernandez, who manages day-to-day operations of Dillon Reservoir for Denver Water from an office near Corinthian Hills. Fernandez provides me with the monthly weather statistics that have been tracked in the area by Denver Water since the early 1960s and formally reported to the National Weather Service since 1909, or so I thought.
My original intent was to do a story based on 100 years of weather records in Dillon, but when I arrived at his office, Fernandez pulled out a couple of big binders and showed me that some of the recorded data goes back as far as 1893 — the stagecoach days. This is pretty exciting stuff for weather geeks, and after poring over the records, Fernandez showed me the precipitation gauge and the old standby thermometers out on the front lawn, just a few feet from busy Highway 6.
Look for a weather history story soon in Summit Voice, but in the meantime, a few tidbits to whet your curiosity. According to the records, the snowiest winter ever at the Dillon site was in 1996, Ferndandez’s first full year on the job, when he tallied 212 inches for the season. The lowest snow year was 1966 (an El Niño year), with only 67 inches of snow.
The hottest and coldest temperatures ever recorded at Dillon were in the same year, way back in 1939, when the temperature soared to 89 degrees on July 12 and dipped all the way to minus 46 degrees on Dec. 11, a spread of 135 degrees.
Filed under: global warming, Snow and weather, Summit County Colorado Tagged: | drought, historic weather records, Summit County Colorado, Summit County snow, Summit County snow and weather, summit county weather