Record warm temps & very little snow
by Keno

Crestone, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and the San Luis Valley (SLV) have been experiencing a drought so far this winter, even if it isn’t official yet.

For Crestone, other than a cold spell that hit on New Year’s Eve and lasted for a couple of weeks, it hasn’t seemed too much like winter at all. December turned out to be the warmest on record, but that had nothing to do with record high temperatures during the day.  Although some above normal daytime temperatures were recorded, it was the very warm nights that gave us the record.  Overnight lows during the month ran 10° above normal, with six record high lows set, which

shattered the old records by as much as 9°, with two of the nights recording above freezing readings, something that happened only twice before in the 28 years of record keeping in Crestone.

The lack of snow is of course a bigger concern, as most residents can live with the warmer temps, which leads to lower wintertime heating bills.  But no snowpack can lead to water shortages this summer.  As of January 24, Crestone had only seen 11” of snow this season. With the scant 0.6” of snow that has fallen in January on course to break the lowest snowfall total for the month.

Crestone and the SLV have seen little or no snowpack this season.  For Crestone, the last nine days of November, when our snowpack usually gets going and stays until spring, saw on average only one inch on the ground, which was down to a trace by December 2, with totally dry land by December 19.  For the first time in years there was no white Christmas.

The snowpack in Crestone got started up again on December 30, when 4.2” fell.  But by mid-January the snowpack was down to only a trace.  Going by official records, we only have seen this happen in January twice, during the drought that took place in 2002, and this year. January 2003 also saw little snowfall, just 2”, the second smallest amount ever to fall in January, but it snowed at just the right times to keep an inch of snowpack around for the month that year.

The snowpack for most of the SLV has been non-existent this year. In Alamosa at this writing, less than an inch of snow has been recorded for the entire snow season! The snowpack in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is also well below average, the only mountain range in the state to be below normal this season.

Colorado’s northern mountains, along with most of the northeastern U.S., and even most of northern Europe, are seeing record high snowfall this season. Does this all have to do with global warning?  No question it does, according to scientists who study this. Only question is, what is causing global warming, is it a natural cycle of the earth, or caused by mankind?  That’s open to debate, but one thing for sure, the entire planet can expect more of this crazy weather in the next several years due to global warming.