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

August and summer occupancy is down

Paid occupancy in Aspen reached 64.4% in August, down from 68.5% last year. Snowmass recorded 46.8% paid occupancy, down from 2022’s 50.4%, according to the August 2023 occupancy report for Aspen and Snowmass lodges, compiled by local tourism officials and reservations tracking firm Destimetrics. August occupancy reached 55.9% for the two towns combined this year, down from 59.8% last year.

Occupancy in Aspen peaked in 2021 after the 2020’s slow down due to the pandemic as the August occupancy reached 75.8% that year.

It’s worth nothing that only commercial occupancy is counted in the report. It doesn’t reflect the occupancy of short-term rentals.

September paid occupancy as of Aug. 31 was at 42.6% for Aspen and Snowmass, down from 50.3% last year. “There was no change to the Labor Day holiday travel pattern, so  it’s difficult to say why September is trailing so significantly,” the summary noted.

Overall summer occupancy is down from last year with 44.4% of rooms booked for May through October as of Aug. 31 for Aspen and Snowmass combined, down from 2022’s 47.5%, 2021’s 55.3% and from 2019’s 51.7% before COVID hit.

“Currently, our view of winter encapsulates November through February. We are pacing behind last year by 9.9%. The deficit is led by January, down 14.6%, as we are seeing a far lower capture of Australians due to increase air fares, inflation and constant currency challenges,” the report added.

Streamflows are slightly up from last week

At Stillwater, located upstream of Aspen, the Roaring Fork River ran at 30.9 cfs on Sept. 17, or 63.1% of average, up from last week when the river ran at 26.6 cfs and 54.3% of average.

Water through the tunnel that sends Roaring Fork flows east of the Continental Divide dropped from 114 cfs on July 16 to 40.5 cfs on July 23, down to 2.1 cfs on Aug. 27. It went up to 14.2 cfs on Sept. 17.

The USGS sensor below Maroon Creek recorded the Fork running at 133 cfs on Sept. 17, or 107.3% of average, slightly up from 132 cfs and 91% of average, on Sept. 10.

At Emma, below the confluence with the dam-controlled Fryingpan, the Sept. 17 streamflow of 383 cfs represented about 84% of average. That’s slightly up from 382 cfs on Sept. 10 and from 80.4% of average.

Meanwhile, the Crystal River above Avalanche Creek, which is not impacted by dams or transbasin diversions, flowed at 86 cfs or 72% of average. Last week, the river ran at 88 cfs, or 67.1% of average.

The Colorado River ran at 2,460 cfs at Glenwood Springs, or 108.4% of average, on Sept. 17, up from 2,310 cfs last week, while the Colorado flowed at 4,120 cfs near the Colorado-Utah stateline, or 107% 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 has lost about two inches since 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. Water levels peaked in early July and are now slowing decreasing. On Sept. 17, the reservoir was 37.73% full (based on updated 2017-18 sedimentation data). That’s down from Sept. 10, when the nation’s second-largest reservoir was at 37.76%.

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 Sept. 17, 2022, the reservoir was 24.91% full.

On Sept. 17, Lake Powell’s elevation reached 3,573.6 feet, or 126.4 feet from full pool, down from 3,573.8 feet on Sept. 10. Last year, on Sept. 17, the reservoir reached 3,529.45 feet in elevation, or 170.55 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.

Maximum air temperatures dropped about 20 degrees last week

High air temperatures at the Aspen airport went from 80°F on Sept. 9 to 61°F on Sept. 14, which is about eight degrees below average. Meanwhile, low temperatures dropped from 50°F on Sept. 10 to 37°F on Sept. 12 and 40°F on Sept. 14.

Clean air in Aspen

The air quality in Aspen was “good.” The AQI index for ozone ranged from 28 on Sept. 15 to 46 on Sept. 17.

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,...