Aspen Journalism is compiling a data dashboard highlighting metrics of local public interest, updated at least weekly by mid-day Tuesday.

Aspen and Snowmass hit occupancy record in December despite snowstorm

“December certainly kept us on our toes,” noted the executive summary sent out with the December 2021 occupancy report for Aspen and Snowmass lodges compiled by local tourism officials and reservations tracking firm Destimetrics. “Roughly 1/3 of the fights over holidays were cancelled outright or diverted. The significance of this was felt in cancelled reservations, delayed arrivals, missing luggage and an abundance of changes to guests’ holiday plans.” Yet, Aspen and Snowmass recorded their highest occupancy rates for December, with 64.1% for Aspen and 65.6% for Snowmass, beating 2019’s 61.8% for Aspen and 51.1% for Snowmass.

January’s paid occupancy for Aspen and Snowmass is at 64% on the books as of Dec. 31, up from 30.6% last year and down from 69.1% in 2019. “This is a fairly valiant recovery considering international travel in January will still not be at full capacity and two large events (X-Games and Gay Ski Week) are compressing demand into the same week this year,” the summary noted.

Winter occupancy is at 48.8% for Aspen and Snowmass combined, up from 26.2% last year and up from 48.2% two years ago. “January and April remain the only two months pacing behind two winters ago but with booking pace showing no signs of slowing, we could see a new record winter occupancy,” according to the summary.

Snowpack remains above average — but some areas outperform others

SNOTEL sites that monitor snowfall throughout the winter measured the snowpack at Independence Pass at 104.7% of average on Jan. 16, with a “snow water equivalent” (SWE) of 8.9 inches. With volume up only slightly since last week, the size of the snowpack relative to the 30-year average is down from at 110.1% on Jan. 9. Last year on Jan. 16, the SNOTEL station up the pass recorded an SWE of 6.42 inches.

The monitoring station at the lower-elevation McClure Pass recorded an SWE of 8.7 inches, or 102.4% of average, on Jan. 16. A week before, the station reported 8.7 inches of water contained in the snowpack, or 114.5% of average. Last year, on that same day, the station measured a snowpack holding 4.41 inches of water, or 51.9% of average.

On the northeast side of the Roaring Fork Basin, snowpack at Ivanhoe contains higher water levels than the 1991-2020 average as well, with 10.12 inches on Jan. 16, which is 133.1% of the average of 7.6 inches. It’s also up from last year’s 6.18 inches of SWE.

Snowpack at Schofield Pass even reached 25 inches on Jan. 16, which represents 152.4% of average. Schofield Pass, located between Marble and Crested Butte, has gained 15.71 inches of SWE since Dec. 23.

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.

‘Good’ air quality reported in Aspen

The air quality in Aspen was “good” this past week. The AQI index for ozone ranged from 36 on Jan. 13 to 44 on Jan. 15.

Air temperature going up

Temperatures increased last week, from a high of 29°F on Jan. 9, which is 3.6 degrees below normal, to a high of 40°F on Jan. 13, which is 7.3 degrees above normal, according to temperatures recorded at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. The minimum increased from -2°F on Jan. 10 to 10°F on Jan. 13, which is 3.1°F above normal.

Laurine Lassalle is Aspen Journalism’s data desk editor, where she works to catalogue and analyze local public data. She also heads our our “Tracking the Curve” project, documenting COVID-19 in Pitkin,...