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National Weather Service revamps winter storm warnings

Experimental forecasts will acknowledge varying threat levels at different elevations

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Graphics issued with winter storm warnings will change to make it more clear that elevation is a factor in winter storm conditions. Graphic courtesy NWS.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Planet Earth may be warming steadily, but a few pockets — including right here in Colorado — have been experiencing some chilly temperatures recently.

That includes Grand Junction, Colorado, where forecasters say December 2013 is headed for an all-time record low average temperature. Through Dec. 12, the West Slope town has averaged just 12.8 degrees Fahrenheit, 1 degree colder than the previous record set in 1978.

But don’t let the local cool temps fool you — NASA data released Dec. 13 shows that, globally,  November 2013 was the hottest since 1880, pretty much when accurate record-keeping started. All three record-warm Novembers have come within the past four years, putting to rest the global warming denier myth that there’s a pause in global warming.

Continue reading

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Incoming storm prompts avalanche, travel warnings

A NOAA weather satellite image shows a strong snowstorm headed for the Rocky Mountains.

A NOAA weather satellite image shows a strong snowstorm headed for the Rocky Mountains.

CAIC forecasters highlight ‘very real and rapidly increasing avalanche danger’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A developing winter storm has prompted the season’s first avalanche warning in the Colorado high county. With up to 12 inches of snow expected across the higher terrain, forecasters with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center say extra caution is required for backcountry travel this weekend.

“Don’t let the fresh snow blind you to the very real and rapidly increasing avalanche danger,” the CAIC posted on its website. The heaviest snow is expected Saturday afternoon and Saturday night and the thin and brittle early season snowpack likely won’t be able to support the fresh snow, especially in wind-loaded areas. Continue reading

Colorado weather: Soggy September

Near-record rainfall at Dillon and Breckenridge

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It was that kind of month …

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — If September felt a little soggy, it wasn’t just your imagination. The official  stats from the two National Weather Service observation sites in Summit County show that it was a month for the record books.

At Dillon, there was measurable precipitation on two out of every three days, totaling to 3.86 inches of water in what is usually one of the driest months of the year. And in Breckenridge, longtime weather observer Rick Bly measured 3.35 inches of precipitation, tied with 1908 as the second-wettest September of all time based on records going back to the late 1800s. Only September 1961 was wetter, with 3.74 inches of water. Continue reading

Flash flood watch posted for western Colorado

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The remnants of Tropical Storm Ivo, off the coast of Baja, are pumping tropical moisture into the Southwest.

Tropical storm off Baja pumping moisture into Southwest

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — So far, the Atlantic hurricane season hasn’t been particularly active, but in the eastern Pacific, nine named storms have formed, most of them moving out to sea with little impact to land areas.

But the latest in the series, Tropical Depression Ivo, is dawdling off the west coast of Baja California and sending moisture streaming into northwestern Mexico and the southwestern U.S. The moisture could affect much of western Colorado and eastern Utah Sunday and Monday, with another round of heavy thunderstorms possible. Continue reading

July precip above average in Summit County

Monsoon delivers plentiful rainfall

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Monsoon rains brought above-average moisture to Summit County in July.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — July brought above-average moisture to both official National Weather Service sites in Summit County, especially in Dillon, where the monsoon delivered 3.35 inches of water, about 1.47 inches more than average for the month.

At least a trace of precipitation was reported on all but seven days at the Dillon weather observation station, with the wettest days on July 25 and July 26, both delivering about a half inch of moisture.

The average daily maximum temperature at Dillon during July was 74.4 degrees, just .10 above average, but the daily average low temperature was 39.8 degrees, nearly 4 degrees above average, probably due in part to plentiful nighttime cloud cover. Continue reading

Climate: Careful 100-year temperature analysis shows distinct warming in western Colorado and eastern Utah

Record also shows slight increase in precipitation

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A study of western Colorado temperature records suggests that global warming in the region is right in line with many other parts of the globe.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Western Colorado and eastern Utah have warmed in the last century, and it appears that precipitation in the region has also increased, according to a new analysis of historic climate data compiled by Grand Junction-based National Weather Service forecaster Joe Ramey.

General long-term trends include cooling from the 1940s through the 1960s, towards warmer and wetter conditions since the 1970s, on par with many other parts of the country and the world.

Specifically, maximum temperatures have risen 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit and minimum temperatures have risen 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit during during the study period going back to 1911, when several towns and cities in the region started to maintain detailed climate data. Continue reading

Summit County: May moisture well above average

Summit County was wet, but much of the state was dry

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The central and north-central Colorado mountains were a bullseye for May precipitation as well as below-average temperatures.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The two official National Weather Service observation sites in Summit County both reported above-average precipitation in May, helping to bolster snowpack and runoff in the Blue River Basin.

In Breckenridge, weather-watcher Ricky Bly reported 22.9 inches of snow, nearly double the long-time average of 10.9 inches based on records going back more than 100 years. It was the second month in a row with double the average snowfall. In April, Bly tallied nearly 50 inches of snow, making it the fifth-wettest April on record. Continue reading

Climate: NOAA offers warm and dry spring outlook

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The three-month temperature outlook from NOAA indicates warmer than average temperatures across much of the contiguous U.S.

Drought expected to persist across the middle of the country

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Although March has been cold and snowy across large parts of the U.S., NOAA forecasters say the chances are better than even that temperatures will rebound to above average across much of the continental United States, including drought-stricken areas of Texas, the Southwest and the Great Plains, with little drought relief for those areas. Florida is expected to stay dry as well, but river flooding is possible in some areas, especially North Dakota.

“This outlook reminds us of the climate diversity and weather extremes we experience in North America, where one state prepares for flooding while neighboring states are parched, with no drought relief in sight,” said Laura Furgione, deputy director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “We produce this outlook to help communities prepare for what’s likely to come in the next few months and minimize weather’s impacts on lives and livelihoods. A Weather-Ready Nation hopes for the best, but prepares for the worst.” Continue reading

Colorado: Storm rolling in …

Forecaster still uncertain for high country snow totals

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A big Pacific trough is working its way inland, bringing snow to much of Colorado.

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By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A winter storm rolling out of the Four Corners toward Colorado is billed as having the potential to drop several feet of snow in parts of the state, but even late Friday night, forecast models were still not in complete agreement as to where the heaviest snow will fall Saturday through Sunday.

National Weather Service forecasters have issues winter storm watches and warnings, as well as blizzard watches for almost the entire state, but the Denver-based forecasters warned that, “Summit County could very well get sheltered again in this Front Range storm.” The forecasters also said the upper low might eject farther south than previously anticipated, which would push the heavier snow amounts farther south. Click here for the latest updates and links to all the warnings. Continue reading

February snowfall near average in Summit County

Temps run well below normal at Dillon weather station

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A satellite photo from the NASA Earth Observatory collection shows extensive snow cover prevailed across parts of Colorado after storms in late January and early February. Click here to learn more about this image.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Temperatures in at least parts of Summit County ran well below average in February, while snowfall totals were near average for the month at the two official National Weather Service reporting sites in Breckenridge and Dillon.

In Breckenridge, long-time weather observer Rick Bly said he tallied 25.4 inches of snow for the month. The long-term average is 23.5 inches. The snow-water equivalent was also slightly above average, at 1.88 inches compared to 1.71 inches.

The snowfall, combined with cool temperatures, helped maintain the snowpack but didn’t make much of a dent in the seasonal deficit. For the year to-date (starting Oct. 1), snowfall is still about 30 percent below average, at 69,5 inches. The average, based on records going back to the late 1800s, is 101.5 inches. Continue reading

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