Aspen Journalism is compiling a data dashboard highlighting metrics of local public interest, updated weekly on Tuesdays.
September occupancy in Aspen and Snowmass down from last year
Paid occupancy in Aspen reached 68.4% in September, slightly down from 68.5% last year. Snowmass recorded 50.5% paid occupancy, down from 2021’s 56%, according to the September 2022 occupancy report for Aspen and Snowmass lodges, compiled by local tourism officials and reservations tracking firm Destimetrics. September occupancy reached 60.2% for the two towns combined this year, down from 63.6% last year.
“September underperformed in occupancy percentage to last year, largely due to the Food & Wine Classic having taken place last year in September versus June,” according to the October summary.
It’s worth nothing that only commercial occupancy is counted in the report. It doesn’t reflect the occupancy of short-term rentals.
October’s paid occupancy was projected to reach 31.4%, based on reservations on the books as of Sept. 30 for Aspen and Snowmass, down from 40.3% last year.
Overall summer occupancy is down from last year. Actual reservations through September and reservations on the books through October season put Aspen and Snowmass summer occupancy at 51.4%, down from 2021’s 59.4%. “When comparing commercially occupied rooms year over year, we are up slightly with 234K occupied in 2022 vs 218K last year,” the report’s summary explained, noting that there were more rooms available this summer than last, thanks to hotel renovation projects in Snowmass that were underway in 2021 being wrapped up by summer 2022.
Twin Lake Tunnel diversion resumed around Oct. 20
River levels in the upper Roaring Fork basin went up in the last week, as transbasin diversions to the Front Range took a break.
The Roaring Fork River below Maroon Creek flowed at 122 cfs on Oct. 30, or 96.8% of average, according to the USGS gauge. That’s down from Oct. 23, when the river was flowing at 139 cfs, or 103% of average.
At Stillwater, located upstream of Aspen, the Fork on Oct. 30 ran at 18.3 cfs or 50.8% of average, down from 18.9 cfs but up from 49.7% of average on Oct. 23. That put the river below the decreed minimum instream flow for the stretch of 35 cfs. The river’s streamflow dropped from 36.2 cfs on Oct. 18 to 17.8 cfs on Oct. 20.
The Fork’s flow was impacted by the Independence Pass transbasin diversion system that sends Roaring Fork headwaters to Front Range cities. The diversion, which was curtailed for much of September to benefit senior downstream water rights, started back up around Oct. 20 as water was running at 26 cfs through the tunnel after it stopped around Oct. 14. Water flowing through the tunnel under the Continental Divide was running at at 19.6 cfs on Oct. 30.
The Roaring Fork at Emma, below the confluence with the dam-controlled Fryingpan, saw and Oct. 30 streamflow of 346 cfs, or about 104.8% of average. That’s down from 366 cfs, but up from 106.1% of average, on Oct. 23.
Meanwhile, the Crystal River above Avalanche Creek, which is not impacted by dams or transbasin diversions, flowed at 85 cfs, or 101.4% of average, on Oct. 30. Last week, the river ran at 100 cfs, or 109.9% of average.
Lake Powell’s elevation has lost about five inches over the past two weeks
Lake Powell‘s storage remains at one of its lowest levels recorded since it began filling in the 1960s. On Oct. 30, the reservoir was 23.98% full (with a total capacity based on a 1986 sedimentation survey) or 25.01% full (based on updated 2017-18 sedimentation data). That’s down from Oct. 16, when the nation’s second-largest reservoir was at 24.06% of capacity (1986 data) or 25.1% (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 Oct. 30, 2021, it was 29.53% full (based on 1986 data).
On Oct. 30, Lake Powell’s elevation reached 3,529.9 feet, or 170.1 feet from full pool, down from 3,530.3 feet on Oct. 16. The reservoir’s water level on Oct. 30 was about 4.9 feet above the target elevation of 3,525. Powell’s surface elevation this year 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 Oct. 30, the reservoir reached 3,544.27 feet in elevation, or 155.73 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.
Air temperature dropped 30 degrees in two days
High air temperatures at the Aspen airport dropped from 62°F on Oct. 22 to 32°F on Oct. 24, or 20 degrees below normal. Meanwhile, low temperatures dropped as low as 15°F on Oct. 25 before going up to 28°F on Oct. 28.
Clean air in Aspen
The air quality in Aspen was “good” last week with an AQI index for ozone ranging from 28 on Oct. 26 to 44 on Oct. 29.
- Colorado’s Division of Water Resources
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District
- Aspen Global Change Institute