ASPEN - Tuesday night's much-anticipated snowstorm delivered an early Christmas present - 10 inches of powder at Aspen Highlands and Snowmass.
Aspen Mountain and Buttermilk were both sporting 4 inches of fresh snow, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.'s Wednesday morning report, but it was still snowing as the lifts opened. Totals from the storm at all four local ski areas should rise before the day is out.
Icy and snow-packed roads slowed travel in the Roaring Fork Valley and chain laws were in effect Wednesday morning in Snowmass Village. The Roaring Fork School District, including schools in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, canceled classes. Aspen's public schools, however, were in session as usual.
At the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, travelers trying to get in and out of the resort were facing flight cancellations, according to the airport's website.
The storm dumped more than a foot of snow in the Rocky Mountains and bumped up avalanche danger across western Colorado. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center rated the danger as high across the Western Slope, including in the Aspen zone, where an avalanche warning was in effect.
The warning was issued for the Steamboat and Flattops zone, areas along and west of Vail Pass in the Vail/Summit County zone, the western Aspen and Gunnison zones, as well as Grand Mesa and the North and South San Juan zones, according to the avalanche center.
"Prior to today's storm, the snowpack was already tender and producing natural and triggered avalanches, especially in the western half of the (Aspen) zone. Snow this morning will create dangerous conditions in the backcountry. Avalanches will occur on many slopes and they may be larger than you are expecting," the center said in its report for the Aspen area.
The storm, heading east to the central Plains and Midwest, is expected to leave frigid weather in its wake as high pressure settles over Colorado. Lows could hit minus 10 Wednesday night in Aspen, according to aspenweather.net. On Thursday, temperatures will start below zero, but are expected to hit the 20s in the afternoon under plenty of sunshine.
At ski resorts around Colorado, 10 inches was about as good as it got in early morning snow reports. Along with Snowmass and Aspen Highlands, Steamboat and Durango both matched that mark. Wolf Creek in southwest Colorado picked up a foot of snow, while Crested Butte and Silverton had 9 inches of fresh stuff. Vail reported 5 inches, as did Sunlight Mountain Resort near Glenwood Springs.