Season snowfall slightly below average on Aspen slopes

Staff report
A rider blows through the trees of the G zones of Highland Bowl March 31 after a series of storms loaded up the snow. It's time to start thinking about the coming season. Passes go on sale Monday.
Aspen Times file photo |

Aspen Mountain could close for the season Sunday on a powder day, if the forecast proves accurate in what’s been a wild, unpredictable winter.

Aspen Skiing Co. ski areas were slightly below average for snowfall from November through March, according to statistics tracked by the company.

Snowmass, which typically picks up the most snow, recorded 239 inches over that period, according to spokesman Jeff Hanle. The Snowmass Snow Safety records show the ski area averages about 255 inches of snowfall from November through March, he said. This season was down about 6 percent., a local micro-forecaster, tracks snow at the ski areas from Oct. 1 to May 1. It’s season-to-date total as of Monday for Snowmass is 290 inches. It’s season-to-date total for Aspen Mountain is 265 inches. The season-to-date total for Aspen Highlands is 275 inches.

Skico’s records showed February was the month that really lagged behind the averages. Snowmass typically picks up 54 inches during that month. This February was balmy and provided early spring skiing but only 33 inches of snow.

Farther down the slope, the Aspen Water Plant’s official weather record for Aspen showed March was above average for snow. About 33 inches fell during the month. The average is nearly 27 inches.

The snowpack near the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River east of Aspen was at 93 percent of average Monday, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

As skiers and snowboarders know, it’s not always how much falls, but when it falls and how it falls that matters most. Enough snow fell in March that Aspen Skiing Co. decided to extend the season at Aspen Highlands. The ski area closed as scheduled Sunday but will reopen for the weekends of April 23 and 24 and April 30 and May 1.

Aspen Mountain is the only local ski area open this week. Its closing day is scheduled for Sunday.