Aspen Mountain’s December snowfall above average | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Mountain’s December snowfall above average

Staff report

Snowfall was above average at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass in December after a slow start to the season, according to Aspen Skiing Co.'s records.

Snowmass received 62 inches in December while Aspen Mountain logged 51 inches. The average for both ski areas is 43 inches, according to Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle.

For October and November, snowfall at Snowmass was 15 percent below average, according to Skico's stats, so the first two months of the season balance out.

"November-December snowfall is almost identical to last year," Hanle said via email.

Conditions on the slopes held up during the holiday rush thanks to 11 days of measurable snow between Dec. 15 and 31, Hanle said. "The cold weather helped our snowpack throughout the busy holiday period," he wrote.

Despite regular snow during the last half of December, the snowpack near the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River east of Aspen remains slightly below normal, according to the automated Snotel site maintained by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The Independence Pass station was at 96 percent of average Monday. It started the month at 92 percent of average.

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Snotel sites up the Fryingpan Valley were reflecting a beefier snowpack than those in the Crystal River Valley. The Kiln site was at 110 percent of average and Nast Lake in the Fryingpan Valley was at 141 percent of average.

McClure Pass was at 106 percent of average and North Lost Trail near Marble was at 102 percent, according to the conservation service. Schofield Pass was at 95 percent.

January could follow suit with December with wetter and colder conditions, according to the forecasters at AspenWeather.net. At the least, precipitation will be average, according to Ryan Boudreau. "We don't see any average January thaw," he said.

The forecast by his partner, Cory Gates, indicates Aspen's slopes will get more than the 5 inches of snow that fell in January and the first half of February last winter. "That was six weeks of horror," Boudreau said.

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