Mountain News: It was the best of times, and the worst of times... 

click to enlarge COLORADO SPRING While the abundant snow keeps skiers in Whistler enteretained, places like Monarch, CO are making the transition to summer.
  • COLORADO SPRING While the abundant snow keeps skiers in Whistler enteretained, places like Monarch, CO are making the transition to summer.

DENVER, Colo. – Snow is so good and deep in British Columbia that Whistler-Blackcomb has already announced an extended ski season, to May 28.

In Colorado, two small ski areas — Cooper and Monarch — announced they are closing early. Others are sticking it out, but like a teenager with acne, trying desperately to cover their blemishes. Vail had huge swaths of dirt even high on the mountain, and crews were moving snow from forested area to cover the ski runs. Steamboat had closed 20 per cent of its trails. These are surely not alone.

In Idaho, the Big Wood River through Ketchum and Sun Valley was bulging with early and high runoff due to unseasonable warmth and heavy rains. The snow line was at 1,900 metres in elevation but expected to rise up to 2,500 metres with a surge of weekend heat, the Idaho Mountain Express reported.

A strange winter keeps getting stranger.

Fire is on many people's minds. West of Denver, embers from a prescribed fire were whipped by strong winds into tinder-dry forests, yielding a wildfire that killed two people.

Near Crested Butte, at the hamlet of Gothic, scientists reported one temperature that was 12 degrees Fahrenheit higher than ever recorded for that date, according to the Crested Butte News. Another record was also within sight: the least amount of precipitation ever in March.

It's feast or famine. Whistler-Blackcomb received 343 centimetres of snow during March alone; Crested Butte hasn't surpassed 508 centimetres for the winter.

Last year, an already healthy winter motored through April and then May. At Steamboat Springs, the Yampa River didn't see a peak runoff until July. This year, the peak seems to have already occurred, water officials tell the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Of course, winter could conceivably return. Or this could be like 2002, the extraordinary drought year to which this one so far has strong parallels. That year, three huge fires erupted in Colorado during June.

Global warming to blame for weather?

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Weather is always erratic, of course. But March was weird enough that the New York Times wanted to know whether scientists thought global warming was to blame.

For some of it — yes, seems to be the answer. The Earth is clearly warming. February was the 324th consecutive month in which global temperatures exceeded their long-term average for a given month. This year, 17 high temperature records have been set for every new daily low.

Even in 2007, the International Panel on Climate Change was willing to report with 90 per cent confidence that the warming trend already well recorded around the world was due substantially to human activities, either greenhouse gas emissions or changed land uses.

Latest in Mountain News

More by Allen Best

© 1994-2019 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation