Aspen ski areas on pace to top 100 inches of snow for January

A skier blasts through the trees at Snowmass Ski Area when double-digits of snow greeted powder hounds Jan. 10. The Aspen ski areas picked up about 60 inches of snow over the first half of January.
Jeremy Swanson/courtesy image |

Aspen and Snowmass could be headed toward rarified air if the snow spigot remains on for the rest of January.

Aspen Highlands and Snowmass are pushing 60 inches of snowfall halfway through January. If the second half is as prodigious for precipitation, it would mark one of the few times that 100 inches of snowfall have been topped in a calendar month, according to Aspen Skiing Co.’s records.

The company’s best records are from the ski patrol at Snowmass, according to spokesman Jeff Hanle. The records go back about 25 years. Monthly snowfall totals at the ski areas weren’t available for the 1983-84 winter, regarded as one of the most bountiful.

Since 1993, it appears the 100-inch barrier has been broken in a single month only a couple of times. A robust 118.89 inches of snow fell in March 1995, according to records at Snowmass.

The mark also was topped with 100.39 inches of snowfall in March 2008, Hanle said. It was an incredible winter in 2007-08, with 97 inches of snow falling in December, 94 inches in January, 80 in February and 100 inches in March.

To put the 100-inch mark into perspective, Snowmass receives 300 inches of snow on average between Thanksgiving and the end of ski season in mid-April, according to Skico.

This season started slow, but the first half of January made up for lost powder. Skico’s records show it has snowed 57 inches at Aspen Highlands and 56 inches at Snowmass so far this month.

Records kept by Aspen Weather, a micro-forecaster, show that slightly more snow has fallen — with 60 inches at Highlands and 59 inches at Snowmass.

Totals would be even higher if the temperatures on the upper slopes weren’t hovering around freezing on a few days, creating a rain-snow mix.

The snowfall calendar at shows it has snowed every day this month except Jan. 6. That includes double-digit dumps on Jan. 5 and 9.

“The powder hounds are lovin’ it, aren’t they?” said longtime Aspen weather watcher Jim Markalunas.

Snowfall totals aren’t as high in Aspen as they are on the ski slopes. The snowiest winter recorded by the city of Aspen since 1934 was 1983-84. The Aspen Water Plant recorded 278 inches of snow in that campaign.

The winter of 2007-08 was second best with 250.24 inches of snow in town.

Even if 100 inches isn’t exceeded, not too many skiers and snowboarders will be complaining after enjoying a cycle like Aspen has experienced.


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