A December to remember | AspenTimes.com

A December to remember

Aspen Times Staff Report

ASPEN ” Who says winter is just arriving?

The latest storm boosted the December snowfall to 84 inches or nearly seven feet at the top of Snowmass, the Aspen Skiing Co. announced Friday. That is more than twice the monthly average, even though 10 days remain for more snow to fall in December.

“This is the second snowiest December since 1980, with the legendary 1983-84 winter being the only one to surpass this total,” the Skico said in a prepared statement.

After a warm and dry November, the Aspen area was hit by a monster storm on Dec. 1 and 2. There was a repeat performance Dec. 7 and 8. The two storms combined to drop nearly five feet of snow. After Skico officials and locals were sweating whether any terrain could open for Thanksgiving, the company was on an advanced schedule to open 4,800 acres and 40 chairlifts across its four ski areas by this weekend.

“This has been a December like none I can remember,” Rich Burkley, Skico vice president of mountain operations, said in the prepared statement. “If I were a bettin’ man I would say we just might pass 83/84 with 10 days and two storms lined up out there.”

As of Friday afternoon, the Skico’s daily snow report reflected a 48-inch base at the top of Snowmass; 34 inches at the top of Aspen Mountain; 49 inches at Aspen Highlands; and 36 inches at Buttermilk.

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The Aspen Skiing Co. reported 11 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours at Snowmass on Saturday morning. Buttermilk picked up 10 inches, Aspen Mountain got 9 and Aspen Highlands received 7 inches.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s Saturday report for the Aspen zone: Above treeline the avalanche danger is considerable on north, northeast, and east aspects above treeline, and moderate on other aspects. Near and below treeline, danger is moderate on slopes facing west, northwest, north, northeast and east. The danger is low on other aspects. Unstable wind slabs and drifts are likely on most steep slopes above treeline, and possible on steep slopes or below near treeline. High-elevation, shady slopes have a weak layer at the bottom of the snowpack. If triggered, this layer could result in some large avalanches.