Aspen Journalism is compiling a data dashboard highlighting metrics of local public interest, updated at least weekly by mid-day Tuesday.
March paid occupancy reached 79% in Aspen, up from 66% last year
Paid occupancy in Aspen reached 79% in March, up from 66% last year, while Snowmass recorded 75.6% paid occupancy, beating 2021’s 62.3%, according to the March 2022 occupancy report for Aspen and Snowmass lodges, compiled by local tourism officials and reservations tracking firm Destimetrics.
Rates for Aspen are nearly on par with March 2019 — before the lucrative month was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic — when Aspen saw 79.2% occupancy. Snowmass was at 80% occupancy in March 2019.
With March’s numbers, total winter occupancy hit 60% for Aspen and Snowmass combined, up from 41.1% last season and 47.9% in the pandemic-shortened 2019-’20 season. It puts this most recent winter just behind 2018-’19’s 61.6%.
April’s paid occupancy for Aspen and Snowmass is at 27.9% on the books as of March 31, up from 24.7% last year.
The numbers also bode well for a busy summer. “Much like last year at this time, we are benefiting from healthy early bookings with a summer occupancy of 28.5%,” the executive summary sent out with the the report noted. “Both towns have strong summer event calendars. A sense of normalcy is returning as we kick off summer with Food & Wine returning to June and the Aspen Ideas Festival being back to in person.”
Roaring Fork River is running at about 80% of average near Aspen
The USGS gauge on the Roaring Fork River near Aspen at Stillwater, located upstream of town, measured streamflow at 39.6 cfs on April 17, which represents 80.82% of average. That’s up from last week, when the river was flowing at 34.8 cfs. On April 17, 2021, the river ran at 35.9 cfs. That puts it above the minimum instream flow of 32 cfs established by a 1976 water rights decree.
The Crystal River above Avalanche Creek, near Redstone, flowed at 138 cfs, or about 77.1% of average on April 14 (latest data available). The cooler temperatures of last week decreased the streamflow of the river as the Crystal dropped from 172 cfs on April 12. The Crystal River at the CPW Fish Hatchery bridge ran at 161 cfs on Apr. 17. That puts the river above the minimum instream flow set at 100 cfs set by the 1979 water rights decree.
Recent snowfall boosts local snowpack
Last Tuesday and Wednesday (April 12 and 13)’s snowfall increased local snowpack. “These spring storms are essential for our soils, streams, and snowpack, due in part to the wetter nature of spring snow in the mountains,” the Roaring Fork Conservancy snow report of April 14 noted. “The Roaring Fork Watershed continues to be one of only two watersheds in the entire Upper Colorado River Basin at or above average snowpack, yet hydrologists are forecasting a below average spring runoff.”
SNOTEL sites that monitor snowfall throughout the winter measured the snowpack at Independence Pass at 86.8% of average on April 17, with a “snow water equivalent” (SWE) of 14.41 inches. The size of the snowpack relative to the 30-year average is up from last week’s 80.2%, following after last week’s snowstorm. Last year on April 17, the SNOTEL station up the pass recorded an SWE of 11.81 inches.
The monitoring station at the lower-elevation McClure Pass recorded a SWE of 11.81 inches, or 80.3% of average, on April 17. A week before, the station reported 11.3 inches of water contained in the snowpack, or 70.6% of average. Last year, on April 17, the station measured a snowpack holding 6.69 inches of water, or 45.5% of average.
On the northeast side of the Roaring Fork Basin, snowpack at Ivanhoe contains higher water levels than the 1991-2020 average, with 17.72 inches on April 17, which is 108.7% of the average of 16.3 inches. It jumped from 17 inches of SWE on April 12. It’s also up from last year’s 15.98 inches of SWE.
Snowpack at Schofield Pass reached 37.09 inches on April 17, which represents 106% of average. Schofield Pass sits at an elevation of 10,700 feet between Marble and Crested Butte.
Snow water equivalent — the metric used to track snowpack — is the amount of water contained within the snowpack, which will become our future water supply running in local rivers and streams.
Lake Powell is 23.7% full at 3522.7 feet
Lake Powell‘s storage reached its lowest level recorded since it began filling in the 1960s and ’70s on April 17 when the reservoir was 23.79% of full.
Last week, on April 10, the reservoir was 23.85% of full. The reservoir’s capacity has fallen since last year, when on April 17, 2021, the reservoir was 35.53% of full.
The surface elevation of Lake Powell dipped below the target elevation of 3,525 feet on March 15. The reservoir hit a record low on April 17 when its elevation dropped to 3,522.7 feet, or 177.3 feet from full pool. The reservoir lost 2.4 inches since April 10, compared to a 6-inch decrease between March 27 and April. 3. Last year, on Apr. 17, the reservoir reached 3,564.31 feet or 135.69 feet from full pool.
The “minimum power pool” for turbines generating hydropower at the Glen Canyon Dam is 3,490 feet, and 3,525 feet has been set as a buffer to ensure that the reservoir and the turbines can continue to function properly.
‘Clean’ air reported in Aspen
The air quality in Aspen was “good” this past week. The AQI index for ozone ranged from 43 on April 11 to 47 on April 12.
Air temperature peaked at over 60°F
Maximum temperature averaged around 49°F between Apr. 6 and 12 and peaked at 63°F on April 9, which is about 13 degrees above normal, according to temperatures recorded at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. The minimum increased from 16°F on April 7 to 31°F on April 11 before dropping to 15°F on April 12.
- Colorado’s Division of Water Resources
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District
- Aspen Global Change Institute