Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Steamboat Legend and 2008/2009 Snow Forecasts

It has been a wet fall with a lot of rain and very cold nights so far. Even though I treasure every day of fall as a skier my thoughts inevitably turn to pondering what kind of winter is approaching for Steamboat. Everyone in town has their favorite method but I tend to defer to those that have ranched the land since Steamboat's earliest days, lived intimately in those winters and have a real connection with the climate here in Steamboat. John Fetcher fits that description and he is also one of the five partners that Jim Temple led in founding the Steamboat Ski area. I have had the good fortune to see John a lot recently at dinner with a mutual friend and a couple of parties. Getting to know him better has not only increased my respect for him immensely but given me a greater understanding of our history in Steamboat Springs.

It is a pleasure to have a conversation with a man that has shaped the Yampa Valley in more ways than I could possibly mention here, hear about how many things came to be, and smile as he relates things he was a part of in a very understated humble way. He is a true Steamboat icon and a great example for us as we look forward to remember the qualities that got us here. Things we must maintain if we hope to keep this valley as special as it has been given to us by our founding fathers and mothers. BTW I have seen tons of Beaver sign every time I have fly-fished in the Elk River Valley this year, just like last summer and fall which preceded our record snow year last fall. Let's hope John is right but either way it is always fun to dream.

Excerpts from the Steamboat Pilot: "...if you’re like John Fetcher, who has lived in the Yampa Valley since 1949, you can talk with the beavers.

Local legends and old wives’ tales abound in regional weather predictions, but Fetcher said his commune with nature gives him an idea of what to expect. “I get my winter forecast from discussing the matter with the beavers that infest our ranch,” Fetcher said. “We have lot of beavers, and if they build lots of dams, we figure it’s going to be a hard winter.” So far, Fetcher’s furry forecasters predict a heavy snowfall, he said, although he admitted he doesn’t put much stock in the data.

For December to February, Larson said there is a 42 percent chance of above-normal temperatures, with a 33 percent chance it will be near normal and 25 percent chance of below-normal temperatures. The climate prediction center of the Weather Service also predicts there will be near-average snow for the year. Despite the discrepancies, there was one thing that all forecast methods agreed on: snow is coming.

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