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Mountain News: Many mountain towns wet like a river current



VAIL, Colo. - Soggy conditions have prevailed in many mountain towns in recent weeks, causing moods to become as dark as the clouds. "Man, there's been a lot of rain around here," exclaimed one Vail man after another half-inch rainfall. "It's crazy."

In Idaho, the story is the same. Ketchum, located at the foot of the Sun Valley ski area, got more rain in the first week of June than it averages for the month.

"It's like the Pacific Northwest around here," a sheriff's deputy told The Aspen Times .

But the Pacific Northwest was parched. Concerned about the risk of starting wildland fires, the Whistler Fire Rescue Service in late May banned construction adjacent to forests except for between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Unaffected by the ban was the athletes' village being readied for the 2010 Winter Olympics, as most remaining work now is in the interior, reports Pique Newsmagazine.

Brian Lawrence, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says both wet and dry anomalies can be explained by two distant storms, one anchored near Alaska's Aleutian Islands and another hunkered south of Greenland. Think of them like boulders in a river, determining how the current flows, he says. Until an even bigger storm comes along, Whistler and Vail alike can expect the unusual.

Yet the downpours were by no means uniform. In Colorado, Crested Butte was only a little above average. Not even 200 miles away, Durango had three times its average precipitation during May and had recorded 0.75 inches of rainfall a third of the way into June, more than double the usual monthly figure of 0.32.

If this year's rainfall deviates from what The Aspen Times describes as the early summer norm of bluebird skies, it's useful to also remember that averages are just that. A pattern of deluges also occurred in 1995 almost until Summer Solstice, leaving valley bottoms soaked and mountain-tops resplendent with fresh powder.

Jumping off a cornice at the Arapahoe Basin ski area in mid-June that year, the editor of a now-defunct ski magazine from New England stopped and turned to his companion in astonishment. "These are mid-winter conditions," he exclaimed.

Newest Armstrong a native of Aspen

ASPEN, Colo. - Bicycle racing champion Lance Armstrong's fourth child is a native of Aspen. The boy was born at Aspen Valley Hospital to Armstrong, who has a home in Aspen, and Armstrong's girlfriend, Anna Hansen, reports The Aspen Times

Great strides in wake of gay riots in 1969

TELLURIDE, Colo.-Peter Shelton, the well-known journalist of ski magazines and books, didn't always live near the ski slopes. In his column in The Telluride Watch , he explains that in 1971, a newly-minted college graduate, he arrived in Gotham, to figure out what the big city was all about. There, he met a lot of gay men.