Snowy December ranks among whitest

It’s not exactly weather for dining outside, but the horses liked it. Nikka, 14, and Shelby Wolf, 18, while on a horseback ride, decided to have lunch at Junction Square Pizza on Seventh Street Sunday. Their horse arena south of Grand Junction was frozen so they took a tour of downtown Grand Junction. The horses did have a few bites of the meal.

A hiker travels up the Serpents Trial with the help of walking sticks in the Colorado National Monument Sunday under a clear sky. The inversion has finally cleared out.

Relentless waves of strong winter storms that pounded the Grand Valley made for one of the snowiest Decembers on record, although it may not necessarily be a harbinger for the rest of the season.

A total of 13.9 inches of snow piled up at Grand Junction Regional Airport last month, the fifth most since the National Weather Service began keeping records in 1893.

It was nearly three times the normal amount for the month of 4.8 inches and nearly 4 inches more than the 10.1 inches the city received in December 2007.

The rest of Colorado received its fair share of snow as well. As of Sunday, the statewide snowpack level stood at 116 percent of the 30-year average, according to the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Five of the state’s eight river basins boasted snowpacks higher than 100 percent of average.

Only the South Platte (86 percent), the Laramie and North Platte (91 percent) and the Yampa and White (96 percent) river basins were below 100 percent of average.

The forecast for the remainder of winter doesn’t offer much insight into whether Colorado will receive an abundance of snow or dry out.

Norv Larson, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Grand Junction, said models show equal chances of above- or below-normal precipitation and temperatures into March.

December’s ample snow wasn’t enough to make up for the dearth of precipitation that fell the rest of the year.

Grand Junction received 7.26 inches of precipitation in 2008, more than 1 1/2 inches below the average amount of 9 inches.


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