We’re finally having a winter like we’re supposed to have | AspenTimes.com

We’re finally having a winter like we’re supposed to have

Scott Condon
Aspen Times Staff Writer

So, this is what winter is supposed to be like.

Last weekend’s big dump created a snowpack that’s typical for the Aspen area ” even though it seems like the snow is a lot deeper than usual.

The snowpack on Independence Pass was only 1 percent above the 30-year average yesterday, according to measurements by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service. A week ago the snowpack was 3 percent below average.

But statistics can be deceiving. The high amount of snow that fell Friday and Saturday created some of the best skiing conditions that many locals can remember in a long, long time. And this winter is stacking up particularly well because the past few were so dry.

For the record, Aspen’s 2003 calendar year ended up with 13.27 inches of precipitation. That was down 31 percent from the average of 19.2 inches.

This year is looking better. The snowpack for the Roaring Fork River basin as a whole is now 15 percent above average, according to the NRCS.

The Crystal River drainage benefited most from the latest storm. Schofield Pass is 28 percent above average. McClure Pass is 26 percent above. The computerized measuring site at North Lost Trail near Marble showed the snowpack was 34 percent above average yesterday.

The Fryingpan River drainage also improved drastically from the last storm, but the snowpack in some sections is still below average.

The Ivanhoe site was 2 percent above average. The Kiln site’s snowpack was only 93 percent of average while Nast Lake was only at 85 percent of normal.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Web site showed the Colorado ski resorts along Interstate 70 didn’t benefit as much as other parts of the state from the latest storm. Vail and Keystone were only at about 80 percent of the 30-year average snowpack as of yesterday. Cooper Mountain and Breckenridge were at 74 percent of average. Winter Park was at 96 percent of normal.

Conditions were better to the north and south. Steamboat’s snowpack was 10 percent above average on Monday. Crested Butte was at 25 percent above average while Telluride was 23 percent higher.

Wolf Creek has regained its mantle as the snowiest resort in Colorado with a snowpack 56 percent above normal.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com]