It looks like the first day of winter, Thursday, may actually become — the first day of winter! Forecasters in Denver, plus our Meteorologist Don Day, are now looking at today and tomorrow to be about as warm and dry as we’ve been lately, but then Wednesday night, a very cold system that’s been making its way from northern Canada should start arriving. That’ll mean much colder temperatures, and according to some early outlooks, 4 to 8 inches of snow Thursday, then a brief break, then potentially more snow over the weekend. Be sure to stay right where you are, because Meteorologist Don has his joyous, Christmas-y forecast coming up in just a few moments, here on The Mammoth!

And it looks like that system can’t get here soon enough– Stay Aspen Snowmass reports the upper end of the valley’s starting to get some cancellations of vacation plans due to the lack of snow. Not only are those folks reconsidering their visits to the region, there seem to be a lot not making reservations for later in the season. All that, with the least terrain open at this point in the season in many years, and yet Aspen and Snowmass were ironically, both slightly up in occupancy last month. Aspen, nearly 9% ahead of November last year, Snowmass Village 5.6% higher.

According to the Aspen Times, the Pitkin County Commissioners are ready to answer concerns expressed in the latest community survey. Many locals complained the government hasn’t been doing enough about substance abuse issues and mental health in the county. At tomorrow’s noon meeting in the County library at Aspen, the board’s expected to vote to enter a half-million-dollar partnership making services available in both those areas, without regard to your ability to pay. The partnership will include the county, city of Aspen, its public school district, and Aspen Valley Hospital. It’ll put therapists into Basalt and Aspen high schools, add a nurse to the county jail, add 4 positions with Mountain Valley Health, and create a rapid-response team. County Manager Jon Peacock says, at least it’s a start.

At the same time, another health care provider, Glenwood Springs-based Mountain Family Health Centers, is struggling. The Post-Independent reports the Congressional slowdown on everything but that giant tax bill has forced cuts at community health centers nationwide, including Mountain Family. Since Washington hasn’t yet reauthorized in the Senate a House-passed bill extending funding for 2 years, those centers have had to make significant cuts. Mountain Family is now reportedly down 15 clinical and administrative workers across its 4-county service area. Its director Ross Brooks says the concern is not only about how people’s health needs will be unmet, but also about the significant loss of those jobs in Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin, and Rio Blanco counties.

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s office reports the successful rescue of a couple hikers Monday afternoon. They called 911 when they were near the intersection of the Sunnyside and Shadyside trails, reporting they were getting cold and tired, and worried they might not be able to make it back to the trailhead. Mountain Rescue Aspen got a team heading up to meet the pair a couple hours later, safely escorting them down. No injuries or medical problems reported. But as always, Mountain Rescue reminds you that especially when going into the backcountry, monitor your daylight, your progress, and your fatigue, and be fully acclimated, hydrated, and clothed for any situation that might arise out there.

The Caerus and Encana oil & gas companies say they’ve overpaid property taxes, and they claim to be owed about $7.2 million combined by Garfield County. The county commissioners denied those refunds earlier this year. Now the companies say their payments could be forced, after a state Supreme Court ruling in a Mesa County case. It says companies can request abatements or refunds, even though the overpayments came from their own accounting errors. County Assessor Jim Yellico says Garfield’s track record is to treat taxpayers fairly, so he looks for the commissioners to issue those refunds.