Monday, January 16, 2012

Snow drought forces Colorado to face frightening new climate-change reality

LinkJust a year after record snowfall throughout much of the Rocky Mountain West, the region is locked in a snow drought not seen since Jimmy Carter surrendered the White House to Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s.

“We have had some very unusual weather so far this season,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said Friday. “For the first time in 30 years, a lack of snow has not allowed us to open the back bowls in Vail as of January 6, 2012, and, for the first time since the late 1800s, it did not snow at all in Tahoe in December.”

Vail saw eight inches of new snow on Saturday, but it still wasn’t enough to open the vast majority of the mountain. Ski industry woes aside, state water watchers and firefighters are nervously eyeing the miniscule mountain snowpack, which supplies so much of the water used by Front Range cities. As of Dec. 30, snowpack in the Colorado River basin was 44 percent of last year’s record level and just 63 percent of the annual average. Read More