Aspen and Snowmass have reaped 56 days of powder so far
Aspen couldn’t keep pace with Tahoe, which had a record-breaking month of February with more than 300 inches of snow, or Jackson Hole, which topped 200 inches, but the local resorts still logged a mighty fine month.
Snowmass was blessed with about 66 inches of powder during the snowy month, according to Aspen Skiing Co. There were 17 days with at least one inch of snow and nine days of 4 or more inches.
Aspen Highlands reaped 55 inches of snow on mid-mountain slopes and about 8 inches more in Highland Bowl, according to Skico’s records.
As one of the ski area patrol directors noted in casual conversation, the snow has been frequent with consecutive days of 5, 6 and 7 inches of snow rather than a few really big dumps spread out with dry days in between.
“I like skiing fresh, upon fresh, upon fresh,” the patrolman said.
Since Nov. 1, Snowmass has picked up 217 inches of snow while Aspen Highlands has collected 221 through Feb. 28, according to Skico’s stats. That is on pace to match or slightly exceed the average seasonal snowfall.
According to the tally by OnTheSnow.com, an online forecasting service for skiers, Aspen resorts have enjoyed 56 days when snow has fallen since the lifts started spinning Nov. 17 on Aspen Mountain. That’s more than half of the 104-day season through February.
The season started early because of good snow conditions. Aspen Mountain opened five days early.
Jeff Hanle, Skico vice president of communications, said Skico officials haven’t held internal talks yet to determine if the ski season will be extended. As scheduled, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk will close April 7. Aspen Mountain and Snowmass will close April 21.
March is coming in like a lion with roughly a foot of snow falling after midnight March 1 and several more inches of snow expected in storm surges into Monday. A winter storm warning remains in effect for the Aspen area until noon Sunday.
AspenWeather.net, a local micro-forecaster, noted online Friday that the whole month of March is shaping up as a snowy month.
“Expect a nasty month and I won’t be changing my outlook,” aspenweather.net meteorologist Cory Gates wrote. In this case, nasty is a good thing — as in snow-filled.
OpenSnow.com, another forecasting service, concurred on the outlook for March.
“Nearly every mountain region of the West has a snowpack that is near or above average, and we should continue to pile on the powder for the next few weeks,” founding meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote on the site Thursday.
Lower elevations in the Roaring Fork Valley typically don’t pick up as much moisture as the ski areas. So far this calendar year, the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport is drier than usual. The airport has logged 1.65 inches of precipitation in January and February, not including Thursday night. The average combined amount for the two months is 2.24 inches.
The snowpack in the Roaring Fork River basin is healthy but not gargantuan. The snowpack at the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River east of Aspen was 108 percent of median as of Thursday.
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Kevin Warner started his career with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger in 2001. Now he’s taking over the key position as Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.