Climate expert: Spring could bring more snow |

Climate expert: Spring could bring more snow

Sarah Mausolf
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colo. – So far this season, Vail has been a bit like Lindsay Lohan – it hit periodic dry spells and everyone speculated on how long it would last.

This past weekend brought some long-awaited powder to the slopes.

Vail Mountain on Monday reported 10 inches of new snow over the past 24 hours, with Beaver Creek reporting 2 new inches.

Calling the storm “refreshing,” Vail ski shop employee Brad Smith said he found knee-deep powder in Vail’s Back Bowls. The conditions, he said, “went from nothing to everything in about two days.”

The snow was fun, but just how significant was it? Did it mark a turning point that will set the pace for a snowy rest of winter?

“I think we’ve hit rock bottom, so it’s going to get better,” said Klaus Wolter, a climatologist with the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research lab in Boulder.

Just before the ski season started, Wolter predicted El Nino would impact Colorado’s winter weather in ways skiers wouldn’t like.

“In the high country, and this is essentially everything north of Telluride, the ski resorts at the highest elevations tend to be drier with an El Nino winter,” he wrote.

He said ski areas would get fewer midwinter storms because the storm track will be mostly to the south.

“You get fewer storms, and every once in a while, we’ll get hit and those storms can be healthy storms, by all means, but you shouldn’t expect a lot of powder skiing,” he predicted.

Looking forward, Wolter has better news for skiers.

He said the next two weeks do not promise any more storms like the one this past weekend but could provide more snow than the really dry spells earlier in the winter.

Things could start looking up in February, he said.

“I’m thinking mid-March to mid-April will actually be pretty decent,” he said. “It’s just that we have a long ways to go.”

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