Winter storm hits Aspen, Snowmass
December 1, 2007
ASPEN ” Ten inches of new snow has fallen at Snowmass since Friday evening, while Aspen Mountain is reporting 5 inches from a winter storm that is dumping a mixture of snow and rain on the Roaring Fork Valley.
A winter storm warning remains in effect for the mountains surrounding Aspen and Snowmass until Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Rain and snow are expected, with snow levels near 9,000 feet. The snow will spread to lower elevations Saturday as colder air arrives, according to the weather service.
Snow is expected to become widespread and intensify Saturday afternoon and night, and snow accumulations of more than a foot are possible above 8,000 feet by early Sunday, the service forecast said. Gusty southwest to west winds, from 20 to 35 mph, will create areas of blowing snow and reduce visibility, especially in the high country.
Aspen Highlands, which is not yet open, received 7 inches of new snow overnight, and Buttermilk, also not open, picked up 4 inches, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s morning report.
The new snow has bumped up avalanche danger in the backcountry surrounding Aspen considerably. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center rated slide risk in its Aspen zone as moderate on Friday; Saturday morning, the rating jumped to high. An avalanche watch is in effect for the Aspen zone on Saturday, according to the CAIC.
Says the center: “With plenty of new snow in the forecast and some stronger southwest winds transporting that snow, expect to see a big increase in avalanche danger in the backcountry [Saturday]. Near and above treeline, a very weak older snowpack exists on slopes facing northwest, through northeast, through east. On these aspects, plenty of facets and depth hoar can be found at the base of the snowpack, often mixed with some crusts from all the warm fall weather. Add to this the weight of new snow and wind deposited snow and you have the perfect combination of slab, weak layer and bed surface.
Recommended Stories For You
On all slopes steep enough to slide, avalanche activity is likely Saturday, especially on northwest-, north-, northeast- and east-facing terrain, near and above treeline. Given the weak nature of the old snowpack on these aspects, avalanches have the potential to become large events.”
On all other aspects, the danger is considerable, according to the CAIC. Below treeline, avalanche risk is moderate.
The CAIC website is http://avalanche.state.co.us/.
Ski resorts elsewhere around Colorado are also reporting fresh snow, though the resorts along the Interstate 70 corridor received lesser amounts than, say, Crested Butte, which is reporting 9 inches. Sunlight Mountain Resort outside of Glenwood Springs, which opened Friday, received 6 inches overnight. Steamboat reported 3 inches of new snow.
Vail received 4 inches over the past 24 hours, Beaver Creek reported 3 inches by Saturday morning, and Breckenridge and Keystone both reported 1 inch.
In southwest Colorado, where the storm was expected to be strongest, Telluride picked up 10 inches overnight and Wolf Creek reported a whopping 28 inches.