Aspen Journalism is compiling a data dashboard highlighting metrics of local public interest, updated weekly.
Winter occupancy slightly down from last year
Paid occupancy in Aspen reached 61.6% in December, down from 63.1% last year. Snowmass recorded 48.7% paid occupancy, down from 2021’s 56%, according to the December 2022 occupancy report for Aspen and Snowmass lodges, compiled by local tourism officials and reservations tracking firm Destimetrics. December occupancy reached 55.5% for the two towns combined this year, down from 60.3% last year.
It’s worth nothing that only commercial occupancy is counted in the report. It doesn’t reflect the occupancy of short-term rentals.
January’s paid occupancy as of Dec. 31 was at 69.1% for Aspen and Snowmass, up from 63.6% last year.
“The return of international business, led by Australia and Brazil; X Games Aspen opening back up to spectators; as well as a very successful Gay Ski Week, are ensuring the return of strong January occupancy,” the summary noted.
Overall winter occupancy on the books as of Dec, 31 is slightly down from last year with 47.9% for Aspen and Snowmass combined, up from 2021’s 48.7%.
“Early season, late season and peak holiday weeks are dragging us behind, while January, February, and March are all pacing up,” according to the summary.
Roaring Fork basin snowpack remains well above average
Snowpack in the Roaring Fork basin reached 128% of average for Jan. 15 with 10.9 inches of snow-water equivalent, according to NOAA. Recent snowfall has increased the basin snowpack by 25% in the past two weeks.
SNOTEL sites that monitor snowfall throughout the winter measured the snowpack at Independence Pass at 98.7% of average on Jan. 15, with a “snow water equivalent” (SWE) of 8.39 inches, up from 7.4 inches on Jan. 8. Last year on Jan. 15, the SNOTEL station up the pass (located at elevation 10,600 feet) recorded an SWE of 8.9 inches, or 104.7% of average.
The monitoring station at McClure Pass located at elevation 9,500 feet recorded a SWE of 12.99 inches on Jan. 15, or 154.7% of average. That’s up from a SWE of 11.18 inches on Jan. 8. Last year, on Jan. 15, the station also measured a snowpack holding 8.7 inches of water.
On the northeast side of the Roaring Fork Basin, snowpack at Ivanhoe, which sits at an elevation of 10,400 feet, reached 9.02 inches on Jan. 15, or 120.2% of average.
Snowpack at Schofield Pass reached 20.91 inches on Jan. 15, which represents 128.3% 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.
Swinging air temperatures at ASE
High air temperatures at the Aspen airport increased from 24°F on Jan. 4 to 41°F on Jan. 10, which is about 11 degrees above normal, before dropping to 33°F on Jan. 11. Meanwhile, low temperatures increased from 1°F on Jan. 5 to 28°F on Jan. 10 before going down to 20°F on Jan. 11, which about 14 degrees above normal.
Lake Powell’s elevation keeps going down
Lake Powell‘s storage remains at one of its lowest levels recorded since it began filling in the 1960s. On Jan. 15, the reservoir was 22.63% full (with a total capacity based on a 1986 sedimentation survey) or 23.61% full (based on updated 2017-18 sedimentation data). That’s down from Jan. 8, when the nation’s second-largest reservoir was at 22.71% of capacity (1986 data) or 23.69% (based on 2017-18 data).
On July 1, the Bureau of Reclamation revised its data on the amount of water stored in Lake Powell, with a new, lower tally taking into account a 4% drop in the reservoir’s total available capacity between 1986 and 2018 due to sedimentation. Aspen Journalism in July published a story explaining the that drop in storage due to sedimentation.
The reservoir’s capacity has fallen since last year, when on Jan. 15, 2022, it was 26.86% full (based on 1986 data).
On Jan. 15, Lake Powell’s elevation reached 3,524.3 feet, or 175.7 feet from full pool, down from 3,524.6 feet on Jan. 8. The reservoir’s water level on Jan. 15 was 0.7 feet below the target elevation of 3,525. Powell’s surface elevation peaked at 3,539.84 feet on July 3, after it dipped to its lowest level since filling of 3,522.24 on April 22. Last year, on Jan. 15, the reservoir reached 3,534.57 feet in elevation, or 165.43 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 recorded in Aspen
The air quality in Aspen was “good” last week with an AQI index for ozone ranging from 27 on Jan. 13 to 41 on Jan. 11.
- Colorado’s Division of Water Resources
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District
- Aspen Global Change Institute