Two big snowstorms have made a world of difference for Aspen’s slopes |

Two big snowstorms have made a world of difference for Aspen’s slopes

The two storms accounted for about one-third of all snowfall this season

A skier makes their way down Tiehack after a large snowstorm on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Two prolific storm cycles this ski season have produced more than one-third of the total snowfall on the ski slopes so far this season, according to Aspen Skiing Co.’s snow reports.

A four-day storm during Christmas week and the three-day powder wave last week produced a cumulative 50 inches of snow at Aspen Mountain and 62 inches of snow at Snowmass, the snow reports show.

Since opening day of ski season, Aspen Mountain has received 150 inches of snow, so the two big storms combined for 33% of the total.

Snowmass has received 180 inches of snow since opening day, so the one-two punch of the storms accounted for 35% of the total.

In other words, only seven days of the 96 days of the ski season thus far have produced one-third of the snow.

Sam Collentine, chief operating officer and meteorologist for the forecasting service OpenSnow and a Roaring Fork Valley resident, said the big totals from the two storms show why pre-season forecasts for winter are difficult.

“As you can see, three to five stronger storm cycles over the course of the winter typically make up a bulk of the snowpack,” Collentine said. “El Niño and La Niña can give us historical insights as to what might happen, but it really comes down to patience and the 10 to 14 days forecast for details as to what we can really expect.”

The timing of the two big storms on the slopes of Aspen and Snowmass was perfect. The Christmas storm ended a dry start to the season and created prime conditions for one of the busiest periods of the year. Last week’s storm refreshed the slopes before the March madness of spring break.

Last week’s storm produced two of the biggest powder days of the season. Snowmass received 19 inches overnight Tuesday. Aspen Mountain picked up 11 inches overnight Wednesday.

Even with last week’s big storm, the snowpack in the Roaring Fork watershed is still a mixed bag. The snowpack at the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River east of Aspen was only 86% of median as of Monday, according to the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The Ivanhoe site near the headwaters of the Fryingpan River was at 107% of median.

Three sites in the Crystal River basin varied widely, according to NRCS data. McClure Pass was only 91% of median on Monday while North Lost Trail outside of Marble was at 127% and Schofield Pass measured at 128%.