~ by Bob Volpe ~
So, “How’s the weather?”
There’s been a lot of chatter lately about the state of our snowfall this year on social media and the local watering holes. Some say we are getting a lot of snow this year, some say it is unusually dry.
The truth lies in the numbers that history supplies us.
I’ve been keeping snowfall records at my house just west of downtown Woodland Park since 2005-06 (16 years). It isn’t a scientific measurement. I just measure off the picnic table in my yard. The following is what I have observed here at my house. I don’t claim that they match official snowfall totals from scientific sources.
Perhaps those saying we are not getting our fair share are basing that assessment on last month. January is historically the driest month of the winter season. This January was indeed a dry month with only a total of 5” of snow from only two storms of accumulating snow.
Here are some things I can share from my measurements:
January is the driest month. Over the last 16 years, the average snowfall for the month of January is 10”.
We are now entering the second week of February. February is historically a month of feast or famine when it comes to snow. The driest of February was in 2009 with only 3” of snow, while the wettest February saw 24”.
The snowiest months are March and April. The average snowfall over 15 years for March was 16”. The average for April was 20”. (2019-20 aren’t in yet)
The driest years were; 2017-18 with only 56” of snow, 2005-06 with 68”, 2016-17 with 69”, and 2012-13 with 72”.
The wettest winter was; the 2006-07 season with 201” of snow. That season we got 45” of snow in October and 58” in December, including a Christmas blizzard. The Christmas blizzard storm lasted from December 20-24, dropping 24”, then a second storm hit December 27-29 dropping another 30”
Five other seasons; 2008-09, 2009-10, 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2018-19 all saw over 100” of snow and the average for those five years was 129.5” per year.
As we all know when anticipating the first snowfall, Halloween is the target. The years 2014 and 2016 were only two years that we didn’t get any snow in October. Oddly enough the 2014 season made up for no snow in October by ending with 117” for the year. The 2016 season, on the other hand, was dry with only 69” of snow.
The earliest snowfall of the last 16 years, was 2009. On September 22 and 23 it snowed 9” over those two days.
The latest snow was on May 23, 2007, and May 23, 2017. In May of 2007, we got 18”. In May of 2017, we got 10”. We’ve had accumulating snow in May every year with the exception of 2006.
The average winter season snowfall over 16 years is 83.6” (including this season to date).
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), this year’s snow-pack in the eight major river drainages of Colorado, as of January 30, 2020, statewide is 109 percent of normal. Our own South Platte River drainage system is a healthy 110 percent of normal.
Having kept these records over the last 16 years, the fluctuation from year-to-year various greatly. One year of snowfall of over 100” can be followed by a year of far less.
The average snowfall over the last 16 years from the first snow to present is 44.5”. This year we are at 49” to date. So as years go, this is slightly above normal to date. This, however, is subject to change without notice as history has shown us.
Snowfall in Woodland Park is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.