Despite some decent helpings of early snowfall this autumn, what locals and visitors had been hoping for finally came — an estimated 14-inch dumping of powder atop Aspen Mountain and 12 inches on Snowmass ski area late Tuesday and much of Wednesday.
In fact, Mother Nature was generous throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, dropping about 11 inches in the city of Aspen, 9 or 10 inches in the Basalt area and a similar amount in Glenwood Springs. The estimates from each area vary, depending on the source and the precise location.
It would suffice to say it was a nice early December storm. It was enough to cancel most flights in and out of the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, close down local schools and send hundreds of workers and school-kids to the slopes for a powder day.
Aspen Skiing Co. called the weather event a “major blizzard.”
“The first major blizzard of the season hit Aspen/Snowmass last night, leaving over one foot of fresh powder on the slope. Even better news, it’s still snowing and should continue to do so through tomorrow,” said Meredith McKee, Skico spokeswoman, in an email blast to local media.
“Aspen/Snowmass has seen a remarkable eight feet of snow (96 inches) since October 1, making for one of the best early season starts to date,” she continued.
Ryan Boudreau, a forecaster with aspenweather.net, said the snowfall was expected to taper off late Wednesday afternoon. The heavy stuff came down between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., the hours in which the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office conducted a “pacing operation” for vehicles traveling eastbound and westbound on Highway 82 between the Conoco gas station in Old Snowmass and the Brush Creek public-transportation intercept lot.
The next significant snowfall event is not expected until Saturday, Boudreau said. It’s not predicted to have quite the same impact as the Tuesday-Wednesday storm, but could bring 3 to 5 inches on Saturday and maybe more on Sunday, according to Cory Gates, also of aspenweather.net.
With the snow came colder temperatures. Gates’ forecast called for Thursday morning lows of 5-below to 15-below from Aspen to Basalt.
For updates on the story, visit www.aspentimes.com on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning or pick up a hard copy of the Aspen Times on Thursday.