Winter arrives in full force in Aspen |

Winter arrives in full force in Aspen

Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

ASPEN – Winter blew in with a vengeance Wednesday morning, dropping 10 inches of powder on the local ski mountains while leaving holiday travelers looking for the best way in and out of Aspen.

The Aspen Skiing Co. reported 10 inches of new snow atop Aspen Mountain and Snowmass, making the base depths 27 and 41 inches, respectively. Nearly the same amount of snow fell in downtown Aspen.

“We’ve had big storms hit over World Cup and Thanksgiving weekend, but I don’t recall something like this – a huge dump on the day before opening day – in a long time,” said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle.

Last year’s base depth on opening day at Aspen Mountain was a mere 13 inches, he said.

“And the wind they were predicting didn’t really materialize, so there were no wind delays or crazy issues like that,” Hanle said. “Really, an epic first day of ski day.”

Aspen Mountain was open to skiers and snowboarders Wednesday as a benefit for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.

Holiday travelers were not as enthused by the storm, as all early-morning and midday flights in and out of the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport were either canceled, delayed or diverted. By evening, however, air traffic was beginning to move as snow clouds cleared.

“All in all, I’d say the impact was minimal; the airlines really made a concerted effort to get flights here,” said Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, predicting little backlog for travelers on Thursday. “Flights in and out of Aspen were not running as planned, but people could eventually still get to where they were going.”

Motorists were similarly affected by Wednesday’s winter storm, though no serious accidents were reported.

“It was icy, snow-packed, with drifting snow, but the snowplows were sort of keeping up and we had an army out there,” said Tom Grady, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office director of operations. “Honestly, though, traffic was really moderate; it wasn’t that bad out there. I think a lot of people eased up on driving because of all the hype about the storm.”

The holiday weekend forecast for Aspen and Snowmass calls for continued clear skies through Saturday. Temperatures will be frigid, however; the daytime high Thursday is expected to be around 12 in town and 7 below zero on top of Aspen Mountain.

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