Storm sweeps into Aspen
December 8, 2009
ASPEN – A winter storm pummeled the Colorado mountains Monday night, dumping more snow in the lower Roaring Fork Valley than it did in Aspen and Snowmass Village.
Sunlight Mountain Resort near Glenwood Springs reported 10 inches of new snow over the previous 24 hours early Tuesday morning and schools in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood were closed. In Aspen, ski area snowfall totals ranged from 2 to 7 inches early in the morning and Aspen schools were in session.
Early Tuesday, the Aspen Skiing Co. reported 7 inches of new snow over the past 24 hours at Aspen Highlands, but bumped up the total to 10 inches by mid-morning. Highlands opens for the season on Saturday.
Snowmass had 6 inches in the first report of the day, and 9 inches of new snow by mid-morning. Aspen Mountain was reporting 2 inches early in the morning and 4 inches by mid-morning. Buttermilk, which also opens Saturday, had 3 inches of new snow at mid-morning.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued an avalanche watch for the Aspen zone through Wednesday morning. Backcountry snowfall in the zone varies widely – from 3 inches to more than 2 feet, according to the CAIC, which rated the overall danger at considerable. The Marble area picked up about a foot of new snow and roughly two feet was measured at Schofield Pass, located between Marble and Crested Butte, according to the CAIC.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort reported 10 inches of new snow within the past 24 hours by early Tuesday morning, but it was the resorts of southwest Colorado that picked up the biggest powder dumps.
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Wolf Creek Ski Area reported 23 inches over the past 24 hours on Tuesday morning and 32 over the past 48 hours. Silverton Mountain had 22 inches of new snow by the time the lifts opened Tuesday morning and reported 26 inches over the past 48 hours. Telluride picked up a foot of fresh snow, according to its Tuesday morning report. Avalanche danger was high in the southern mountains.
Durango Mountain Resort, in the south-central mountains, reported 8 inches.
Resorts along the Interstate 70 corridor were seeing lesser amounts of snow. Beaver Creek and Vail both reported 2 inches over the past 24 hours early Tuesday. Loveland and Copper Mountain each had an inch; a half-inch fell at Arapahoe Basin. Breckenridge wasn’t reporting any new snow as of 5:30 a.m. Winter Park, on the Front Range, reported a half-inch.
Roaring Fork Valley commuters found Highway 82 snowpacked on Tuesday morning. The Colorado Department of Transportation was reporting icy, slushy and wet conditions on Interstate 70, and packed snow and blowing snow on the stretch of I-70 between Glenwood Springs and Vail.
At least two flights out of Aspen to Denver were canceled Tuesday morning.
Around the state, Highway 550 was closed over Molas and Red Mountain Passes, as was Highway 160 over Wolf Creek Pass. Highway 285 was closed in southern Colorado.
Go to http://www.cotrip.org for updated road conditions around the state.
The National Weather Service says a strong Pacific storm system will bring heavy snowfall along the Interstate 70 corridor from Utah to Rifle on Tuesday.
Winds gusting up to 50 mph are forecast to produce blizzard conditions over the southwestern mountains, where some slopes could get up to 3 feet on snow.
In Aspen, the National Weather Service is calling for accumulations of 3 to 5 inches on Tuesday, with highs of 10 to 20 and gusty winds in the afternoon. The area remains under a winter storm warning until 6 p.m. Another 2 to 4 inches are forecast Tuesday night, with lows of 5 to 15 below and wind-chill readings of 12 to 22 below.
The weather service is calling for 1 to 3 inches of snow in Aspen on Wednesday, with highs of zero to 10 above and wind-chill readings of 19 to 29 below.
Snow is also forecast along the Front Range Tuesday morning, before the snowfall shifts to the Plains, where highs are expected to range from 5 to 15 degrees.
The severe weather is part of a far-reaching storm system stretching from California to the Midwest.