Storm dumps on Aspen, Snowmass
December 8, 2007
ASPEN ” With 42 inches of new snow in the past 48 hours, Saturday’s opening of Aspen Highlands may be worthy of the epic flag even though Highland Bowl and Temerity reportedly won’t open.
Snowmass and Aspen Mountain both picked up 29 inches over the past two days, and Aspen Mountain is boasting 20 inches of new snow since Friday morning, while Snowmass picked up an additional 15 inches. Highlands received 18 inches over the past 24 hours and Buttermilk, which also opens Saturday, received 15 inches over the past 24 hours and 22 inches since Thursday morning.
Incidentally, the price of a lift ticket jumps to $87 for adults, $78 for youths and seniors, and $55 for children, starting Saturday.
The winter storm that arrived in earnest Thursday night is expected to drop another 4 to 7 inches in Aspen on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. A winter storm warning remains in effect for the mountains surrounding Aspen/Snowmass until 6 p.m. Highs in the 20s are expected Saturday with gusty winds in the morning.
Another 1 to 3 inches is forecast Saturday night. Sunday brings a 50 percent chance of snow and highs of 10 to 20 degrees, according to the weather service.
The snowstorm triggered an avalanche watch for the Aspen zone, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s Saturday report. The avalanche danger is rated high above treeline on west to north to eastern aspects, with pockets of high at treeline; the danger is considerable on other aspects and at other elevations.
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“With the increase in winds overnight Friday, expect to find fresh wind slabs near and above treeline. These slabs will require extra caution if you travel anywhere near them. Both natural- and human-triggered avalanches are likely in these areas,” said the CAIC. Go to http://avalanche.state.co.us/ for further details.
The snowstorm wreaked havoc for travelers in Aspen and elsewhere on Friday, though rain fell in most of the Roaring Fork Valley. Snow in downtown Aspen was wet and heavy, but surprisingly light at the top of Aspen Mountain, where the crowd gathered at the gondola found far more than the 9 inches detailed in Friday morning’s 5 a.m. snow report when they hit the slopes more than four hours later.
Aspen streets were so slick, a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus reportedly wound up sideways across Durant Avenue in front of the Rubey Park bus terminal Friday morning. City bus service stalled and drivers were advised to run their routes as best they could while avoiding their usual circulation through Rubey Park.
Aspen schools were closed.
On Highway 82, an accident at the Aspen Airport Business Center fouled traffic at about 8 a.m.
At the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, a host of incoming and outbound flights were canceled Friday, and an 8 a.m. departure Saturday to Denver was posted as canceled at 7:15 a.m. Go to http://www.aspenairport.com/ for local arrival/departure information.
On Interstate 70, adverse conditions and multiple accidents forced the closure of the interstate Friday at Vail Pass in both directions. It was open to travel on Saturday morning, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation’s website ” http://www.cotrip.org ” but Loveland Pass remained closed. With the alternate route of Loveland Pass closed, travelers should expect delays at the Eisenhower Tunnel at the top of the hour, when trucks transporting hazardous materials are allowed through the tunnel.
Skiers and boarders will find fresh pow all over the state on Saturday, to varying degrees. Vail, scheduled to open its Blue Sky terrain and back bowls on Saturday, is reporting 9 inches of new snow over the past 24 hours and 19 inches in the past 48 hours.
Crested Butte picked up a whopping 32 inches over the past 24 hours and 52 inches over the past 48 hours. Tiny Silverton Mountain in southwestern Colorado received 26 inches in the past 24 hours.
Sunlight Mountain Resort outside Glenwood Springs has picked up 6 inches since Friday morning and 15 inches over the past 48 hours.
Elsewhere, new snow over the past 24 hours ranged from 5 inches at Steamboat and Winter Park to 6 inches at Breckenridge, 7 inches at Telluride, Copper Mountain and Arapahoe Basin, and 8 inches at Keystone and Beaver Creek. Loveland reported 10 inches of new snow.