There are a lot of people here in the valley who have been getting very excited recently. “Why?” I hear you all ask at once. Well, it’s all the rain we’ve been having almost daily for the last 2+ months – buckets of it, mostly in the afternoons, but of the monsoonal variety that pretty much brings most summer outdoor activities to a screeching halt. Rain – combined with noticeably lower temperatures in the morning – and now during the day. And because the ski season is a little over 2 months away, these “lot of people” are full of optimism for a heavy snow year. Makes sense, doesn’t it? After the experience of two winters ago followed by a very mediocre season last year, it’s bound to make a few people “very excited” and start talking about a banner snow year as if a wet summer automatically translates into one.
So – who do we normally turn to at this time of the year to give us some guidance? Yes – the Groundhog of course. Sorry – I’m being facetious. Right now, Punxsutawney Phil is currently sleeping in his terrarium which is built into the Punxsutawney library and was described by one visitor as “a chubby, snoring heap” which actually might describe 68.8% of us, seeing as the Flegal et al research study deemed this percentage of U.S. adults as overweight or obese.
Anyway – I’m getting off topic. When trying to get an indication of what sort of winter we might get, many people rush to the stores this time of year to snag their copy of some light-hearted reading called The Farmers’ Almanac. I’ve never quite understood – is it an Almanac written by Farmers (for everyone) or an Almanac written (by someone) for Farmers? Either way – there’s huge debate as to whether its weather prediction – always a major feature – is accurate or not. The publishers of course claim an 80 to 85% accuracy rate. However, independent studies that retrospectively compare the weather with the predictions “have not shown them more accurate than chance”. There you go – toss a coin. Furthermore, part of the problem is the way in which the country is split up into regions. Colorado is one of 10 states in the North Central US – the weather could be totally different all season in Winter Park compared to – say – the town in Kansas where Dorothy came from (wherever that is).
I can’t leave it there however. Let’s at least see what they say. “Piercing cold with Normal Snowfall”. Brilliant. Online you can see a forecast through November 7th. You’ll need to buy a copy if you want even more long range weather forecasts. Save your money – I have the answers for you right here, and they’re not from the FA.
I’m going to make you wait however, because I want to let you know what the esteemed Dr. Jim Steenburgh has to say. Apparently, he is “obsessed with skiing deep powder and improving our ability to forecast and understand the atmosphere. His credibility and experience are second to none”. I won’t give you the link for his 561-word assessment, but basically he said “We Have No Idea”. Great. Thank you. According to him, we’ll have a “La Nada” year for snow – neither El Nino or La Nina. So we’re no further forward. But there’s still hope.
According to Joel Gratz – my favored source for accurate “nearer the time” snow forecasts – he heard that the mushroom crop in western Colorado is doing very well this summer, and that seems to precede a very good winter. Hmmmmm – I’ve heard before how mushrooms can influence one’s sense of perception and judgment.
But here it is – the news you’ve all been waiting for – apparently an invasive weed up on Berthoud Pass is – like – 3 feet high this year – or is it 7 feet – and that usually means we’re going to get a ton of snow (dude). Yes – the most reliable forecast I’ve heard so far, and coming from someone who apparently claimed an official sighting of the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland AND the Yeti in Nepal in less than 24 hours. You heard it here first folks!