Aspen Journalism is compiling a data dashboard highlighting metrics of local public interest, updated weekly.

Summer occupancy still lagging from last year

Paid occupancy in Aspen reached 59.6% in June, down from 62.6% last year. Snowmass recorded 44.2% paid occupancy, up from 2022’s 42.9%, according to the June 2023 occupancy report for Aspen and Snowmass lodges, compiled by local tourism officials and reservations tracking firm Destimetrics. June occupancy reached 52.2% for the two towns combined this year, down from 53.1% 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.

July paid occupancy as of June 30 was at 53.1% for Aspen and Snowmass, down from 60.1% last year.

“If June’s trend continues into this month, we could be closing the gap every day,” the report’s summary noted. “The towns certainly feel busy enough to indicate that these numbers are getting turned around.”

Overall summer occupancy is down from last year with 33.6% of rooms booked for May through October as of June 30 for Aspen and Snowmass combined, down from 2022’s 37.8%.

Streamflows keep dropping

Local streamflows are slowing down as snowpack is entirely melted and temperatures keep rising.

At Stillwater, located upstream of Aspen, the Roaring Fork River ran at 96.7 cfs on July 16, or 58.3% of average, slightly down from last week when the river ran at 96.8 cfs, but up from 40% of average.

This drop in streamflow is due to the Twin Lakes Tunnel diversion resuming on June 27. The tunnel that sends Roaring Fork flows east of the Continental Divide was running as high as 365 cfs on June 29 before dropping to 114 cfs on July 16.

The USGS sensor below Maroon Creek recorded the Fork running at 604 cfs on July 16, or 96.5% of average, down from 757 cfs, or 111% of average, on July 9.

At Emma, below the confluence with the dam-controlled Fryingpan, the July 16 streamflow of 1,070 cfs represented about 117.5% of average. That’s down from 1,290 cfs on July 9, or 105.7% of average.

Meanwhile, the Crystal River above Avalanche Creek, which is not impacted by dams or transbasin diversions, flowed at 797 cfs or 146.5% of average. Last week, the river ran at 1,120 cfs, or 145.8% of average.

The Colorado River ran at 5,260 cfs at Glenwood Springs, or 104.4% of average, on July 16, up from 7,440 cfs last week, while the Colorado flowed at 7,260 cfs near the Colorado-Utah stateline, or 105.8% of average.

Aspen Journalism is compiling real time streamflow data. You can find all the featured stations from the dashboard with their real-time streamflow on this webpage.

Lake Powell’s elevation slightly down from last week

Lake Powell‘s water levels began their seasonal rise in mid-March as warming temperatures initiated snowmelt, after the reservoir in the winter dropped to its lowest level on record since filling. On July 16, the reservoir was 41.26% full (based on updated 2017-18 sedimentation data). That’s down from July 9, when the nation’s second-largest reservoir was at 41.49%.

Last year, on July 1, 2022, 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. We will be now using the 2017-18 sedimentation data only.

On July 16, 2022, the reservoir was 27.24%.

On July 16, Lake Powell’s elevation reached 3,584 feet, or 116 feet from full pool, down from 3,584.7 feet on July 9. Last year, on July 16, the reservoir reached 3,538.45 feet in elevation, or 161.55 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 temperatures on the rise

High air temperatures at the Aspen airport are going up, from 76°F on July 1 to 86°F in July 12, or about six degrees above normal. Meanwhile, low temperatures ranged from 40°F on July 9 to 52°F on July 4.

Air remains clean in Aspen

The air quality in Aspen was “good” last week except on July 14 when the AQI index for ozone was “moderate” and reached 58. For the remainder of the week, the AQI index for ozone ranged from 39 on July 12 to 49 on July 15.

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,...