Morning photo: Snapshots

Snow magic in Breckenridge

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Colorado lights highlight the shapes of the Breckenridge snow sculptures.

FRISCO — Some years it’s cold and snowy, other years, it’s warm and dry, but either way, the snowsculptures at Breckenridge’s annual competition never fail to amaze — and this year was no exception. Artists from around the world battled near-record warm temperatures as they finalized their creations for the judging Saturday. Here are just a handful of snapshots from the Riverwalk Center. Continue reading

Breckenridge — time to stomp!

Preparations for the 2013 Snow Sculpture Championships begin

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Photos and story by Jenney Coberly

BRECKENRIDGE — Creating art requires serious preparation, and the International Snow Sculpture Championship in Breckenridge is no exception. Before the artists can begin their ephemeral masterpieces, dozens of volunteers and town employees gathered this week at the Riverwalk to “stomp” 20-ton blocks of snow.

The Riverwalk Center parking lot bustled with activity as construction of snow monoliths commenced. Workers use a crane to assemble the big construction forms for holding the snow as it is compacted. Operators drive bulldozers and operate giant snowblowers to get the snow into the forms. Once a sufficient layer of snow is deposited, volunteers climb up a scaffolding and then down a ladder into the form to stomp the snow firmly into place.

Snow stomping will continue until Friday, January 18. Opening ceremonies kick off the start of sculpting on Tuesday, January 22, and the artists work morning, noon and night until early Saturday morning, January 19. The snow sculptures will be on display, weather permitting, until February 3.

Visit the GoBreck website for the schedule and complete information about the event.

Colorado: Weather and climate summit returns to Breckenridge

Hurricane Isaac satellite image

Hurricane Isaac moving into the Gulf of Mexico in August, 2012. Satellite image courtesy NOAA.

Extreme weather communications, sea level rise and Arctic meltdown on the agenda

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Following a year that ended up being the warmest on record for the contiguous 48 states, and that included a monster drought and superstorm Sandy, weather experts have a lot to talk about.

This week, broadcast meteorologists will have a chance to meet face to face with climate researchers and other experts during the annual Glenn Gerberg Weather and Climate Summit in Breckenridge, Colorado (Jan. 14-18).

This is the second year the summit is being held in Breckenridge, but the main purpose is stil the same — building relationships between broadcast meteorologists and scientists who are doing groundbreaking research, said conference organizer Dave Jones, president and CEO of StormCenter Communications, Inc. Continue reading

Summit County snowfall above average in December

Snowpack still lagging behind average and behind last year

Buffalo Mountain Summit County Colorado

December 2012 snowfall was slightly above average in Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — December snowfall in Summit County was just slightly above average at both official observation sites, with Breckenridge weather watcher Rick Bly tallying 25. 3 inches for the month, just about 3 inches more than the average based on records going back more than 100 years. Continue reading

Breckenridge to host start & finish of 2013 USA Pro Challenge

Popular bike race also features a Lovelend to Fort Collins stage

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2012 USA Pro Challenge riders on a warmup lap in Breckenridge. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The USA Pro Challenge will be back in Summit County for the third year in a row,with Breckenridge hosting both the finish of Stage 2 (Aug. 20), with riders rolling into town after climbing and descending Independence Pass, and the start of Stage 3 (Aug. 21), as the race heads to Steamboat Springs.

The 2013 edition of the popular race gets under way Aug. 19 in Aspen with a circuit stage and finishes Aug. 25 with another circuit race in Denver. The rest of the stages:

  • Monday, Aug. 19    Stage 1   Aspen/Snowmass Circuit
  • Tuesday, Aug. 20   Stage 2   Aspen/Snowmass – Breckenridge
  • Wednesday, Aug. 21   Stage 3   Breckenridge – Steamboat Springs
  • Thursday, Aug. 22   Stage 4   Steamboat Springs – Beaver Creek
  • Friday, Aug. 23   Stage 5/ITT   Vail Time Trial
  • Saturday, Aug. 24   Stage 6   Loveland – Fort Collins
  • Sunday, Aug. 25   Stage 7   Denver Circuit Continue reading

Colorado water year off to one of the worst starts on record

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This year’s snowpack (orange) is lagging behind last winter and hovering close to the all-time record low.

November snowfall pitiful in Summit County

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The first two months (October and November) of the 2013 water year have been among the driest on record in Breckenridge, where weather observer Rick Bly tracks precipitation on a daily basis, adding to a data set that goes back more than 100 years.

Bly tallied just four inches of snowfall in November, only about 20 percent of the 20.9 inches that’s average for the month. That snow melted down to just .26 inches of water, compare to the average 1.5 inches for the month.

The historic average snowfall for October and November combined is about 33 inches. This year Bly has measured just 12 inches, less than about 64 percent below the average. Less than 1 inch of moisture has accumulated for the year to-date. Continue reading

Mind-mixing in Breckenridge

Town sets up new online engagement forum

Breckenridge, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with offering opportunities for input during formal settings like town council meetings and hearings, Breckenridge is reaching out to residents with a new  forum designed to let people brainstorm in a casual online setting.

The new website, EngageBreckenridge.com, lets residents and visitors chime in on topics currently being discussed by the town council, like a potential ban on single-use plastic bags, and also lets people throw out new ideas. For example, one recent discussion thread centers on the idea of an indoor playground. Continue reading

Breckenridge firefighters quell Barton Road blaze

A piece of logging machinery caught fire near Breckenridge, but firefighters were able to extinguish the flames before they spread to nearby forest lands. Photo courtesy Red, White & Blue Fire District.

Logging equipment destroyed in fire

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Observant neighbors and a quick response by local firefighters Wednesday helped prevent a potential wildfire near Breckenridge.

According to the Red, White & Blue Fire District, firefighters were called to a possible wildland fire in the area just above Barton Road and Airport Road in Breckenridge.

When firefighters arrived on scene, they found a piece of heavy equipment used for logging fully engulfed in flames. Firefighters made a quick attack to knock down the fire preventing it from spreading into nearby trees.

A total of seven firefighters worked to extinguish the fire.

The cause of the fire was determined to be a mechanical failure in the engine compartment.  The machine was a total loss and valued at $150,000.

“The quick action of the community seeing smoke and calling 911 helped prevent this fire from spreading,” said deputy chief Jay Nelson. “Our firefighters were able to begin containing and extinguishing this fire before it could spread to the nearby trees and thick pine duff” he said.

Colorado just experienced its worst fire season ever, with deadly blazes along the Front Range destroying several hundred homes. Nationally, wildfires have burned across almost 9 million acres, the most since 2006.

 

Golden horseshoe trail and restoration planning starts

Input wanted on overall plan for Summit County recreation area; Swan River restoration a big part of the effort

The Forest Service wants to add some new trails and decommission others in the popular Golden Horseshoe area near Breckenridge.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Forest Service is seeking public comment on an ambitious plan to remodel the Golden Horseshoe with sustainable trails and a particular focus on ecosystem restoration of the Swan River watershed, between Breckenridge and Frisco.

The environmental study now under way will evaluate and disclose potential effects  proposed reconstruction and designation of several trails, in addition to closure and rehabilitation of several roads in the area.

Generally, the projects consist of the following:

  • 3.7 miles of non-motorized trail construction
  • 5.0 miles of motorized trail construction
  • 5.1 miles of road decommissioning

Maps, documents and commenting information is online at this WRNF web page. Continue reading

Breckenridge Peak 6 expansion wins Forest Service OK, but community concerns, and some hard feelings, remain

45-day appeal period starts when the decision is formally published

Community interest led to a Forest Service-led site visit last summer, attended by dozens of Breckenridge residents and visitors.

By Bob Berwyn

* Background and stories detailing the four-year process at this Summit Voice page.

* More details on the decision here.

SUMMIT COUNTY — White River National Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said Tuesday his decision to approve a 550-acre expansion at Breckenridge Ski Resort is an appropriate balance between resource conservation and recreational use of the forest, but some critics of the expansion remain unconvinced.

Fitzwilliams acknowledged that the expansion will affect 81 acres of habitat for threatened lynx, but promised that the Forest Service will work with community partners to improve the overall conditions of surrounding forests, with an eye toward restoring important wildlife habitat.

“No question, there are impacts, and I think we’ve disclosed them in a fair and balanced manner … and through mitigation and design criteria, we can mitigate them to the point where they are acceptable,” Fitzwilliams said during a media conference call on the Peak 6 decision.

The expansion has been in the works since 2008, when a scoping open house in Breckenridge drew about 200 critical comments that questioned the basic rationale for the expansion and outlined concern about impacts to the environment and the local community, including parking, housing, childcare and overall resort growth. Continue reading

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