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Powder pigs in hog heaven

Powder hounds have had plenty of reasons to rejoice this ski season, as 225 inches of snow have fallen in Aspen/Snowmass since Nov. 1. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)
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Although Aspen’s wet winter dried up a bit in February, powder hounds still have had plenty to rejoice about this ski season.Let’s say you’re someone who lives to ski powder. You’ve got a cushy job – like a real estate agent, lawyer or land use planner (OK, maybe a reporter). Slipping out for a couple of hours isn’t a problem.So far this season, folks like this have been able to satisfy their powder jones 19 days, when at least four inches of fresh snow fell on Aspen Mountain and Snowmass, according to Aspen Skiing Co.’s records.

And for those powder hounds who have the extra flexibility of going to the ski area that received the most snow, there have been 22 days of four or more inches of powder. (In other words, the 19 powder days at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass didn’t always fall on the same days.)Aspen Mountain has been blessed with 225 inches of snow since Nov. 1, according to Skico records. It started with a bang in November, when 47 inches of snow fell. Another 67 inches were heaped on the slopes in December, followed by 73 in January. So far in February, only 38 inches have fallen.As good as it’s been at Aspen/Snowmass, it’s been even better at Steamboat this season. In fact, it’s been so good there the ski area established a separate website, called BigSno.com, to tout its figures.Since Nov. 1, Steamboat has received a whopping 336 inches of snow. The biggies were December, with 105 inches, and January with another 95. At this point in the season, it is the third snowiest winter in 27 years there, according to the website.

And powder pigs there are in hog heaven. There have been a total of 32 days so far this season with four or more inches of powder in Steamboat.Like in the Roaring Fork Valley, February has been the driest month this winter at Steamboat. The snowpack throughout the Roaring Fork basin is showing the effects of a drier than usual month. The average snowpack in the basin dropped from 13 percent above average on Feb. 6 to 4 percent above average on Feb. 24, according to data collected by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.

At a computerized site that measures precipitation east of Aspen, the NRCS reported the water equivalent from the snowpack was 6 percent above average Friday. Total precipitation since Oct. 1 is 23 percent above average at that site, which is along Lincoln Creek at an elevation of 10,600 feet.The federal agency’s data showed that the water equivalent from the snowpack at three sites in the Crystal River drainage is below average; it is above average at three sites in the Fryingpan drainage.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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