December ‘snowmageddon’ helped produce above average snowfall for Aspen |

December ‘snowmageddon’ helped produce above average snowfall for Aspen

Snow blankets the top of the mountains after a May storm in Aspen on Monday, May 2, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

“Snowmageddon” at the Aspen-area ski slopes in late December more than offset dry periods during the winter and created an above average ski season, according to a final snowfall tally by local forecaster

Aspen Highlands received 380 inches from Oct. 1 through 6 a.m. on May 1, according to the local website.

Snowmass received 370 inches over the same time period, while Aspen Mountain collected 324 inches, said in its report Monday.

Aspen Weather meteorologist Cory Gates said in his preseason outlook that he expected snowfall amounts 10% to 12% above normal this winter. Even more snow fell than he foresaw. Nobody is complaining, at least not skiers and riders.

Gates predicted 350 inches for Highlands, about 30 inches less than what actually fell. His prediction was for 360 inches at Snowmass compared to 370 inches.

He nearly nailed Aspen Mountain’s bounty when he forecast 320 inches, four less than what fell.

“I’m happy about the results as they are all very close,” Gates wrote in his online report for subscribers on Monday. “Highlands got away from me just a touch with 380 inches. Snowmageddon did that in late December as Highlands had damn near 130 inches for the month of December.”

Aspen Skiing Co. generically says 300 inches is the average snowfall at Ajax, Highlands and Snowmass. That was pretty close to actual snowfall once the season started to when the lifts stopped spinning.

Even with above average snowfall on local slopes, the snowpack at the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River struggled to reach average for most of the season, due to melting and geographic differences. The Independence Pass measuring station maintained by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service is currently at 69% of average for the date. The Schofield Pass site at the headwaters of the Crystal River is at 98% of average, while the Ivanhoe site near the headwaters of the Fryingpan River is at 104% of average.

All of Pitkin County remains classified as “abnormally dry” in the latest report by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

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