Decent snowfall to start Aspen’s ski season yields to dry first half of January |

Decent snowfall to start Aspen’s ski season yields to dry first half of January

Time to start the snow dance to turn the season around

Leftover snow sits on the edges of Aspen Pie Shop on the walking mall in Aspen on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

This weekend is supposed to bring snow to the Aspen area after a very dry start to January. It will be welcomed relief to anyone who straps on boards.

Aspen Mountain and Snowmass racked up decent snowfall amounts in November and December but Mother Nature closed the spigot in January. Snowmass recorded only 5 inches of snowfall in January through Tuesday while Aspen Mountain managed only 3 inches, according to Aspen Skiing Co.

From Nov. 1 through Jan. 19, Snowmass received 99 inches of snow while Aspen Mountain scored 83 inches, according to Jeff Hanle, Skico vice president of communications.

“Last year through this date we had roughly 124 inches at Snowmass and 129 inches at Aspen Mountain,” he said in an email. “The big difference is last year we had 34 inches at both mountains in January through (Jan. 19). This year Snowmass has had 5 inches and Aspen Mountain 3 inches (so far) in January.”

By his calculations, Snowmass was at 89% of average for November and December. It’s falling further behind average during the dry January.

The forecast calls for snow to start Friday for Aspen and snow showers lasting into Sunday.

The dry conditions aren’t isolated to Aspen and Snowmass. Breckenridge Ski Resort finally topped 100 inches for the season last weekend. In the 2019-20 ski season, it topped the century mark for snow in mid-December, according to the Summit Daily News.

An automated snow telemetry site on Vail Mountain shows the snowpack there is just 69% of average in snow water equivalent — the amount of water in the snow, according to the Vail Daily.

The snowpack at the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River east of Aspen is at 76% of normal, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“The mountains of Colorado have not received generous snowfall thus far this water year (which starts Oct. 1),” said the NRCS water supply report for Jan. 1. “As a result, every major river basin, except for the Upper Rio Grande, currently maintains a below median snowpack.”

The statewide cumulative snowpack was just 83% of median as of Jan. 1 and only 70% of last year’s snowpack on the same date.

“The state needs above average snowfall for the next three to four months to return conditions to normal before spring and summer runoff begins,” the NRCS report said.

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