Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

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January 31, 2014
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Snowfall total nears 3 feet in Aspen

If this storm wasn’t epic, then what is?

Aspen Skiing Co. reported 24 inches of snowfall in a 24-hour period Friday, and another 8 to 12 inches is expected by 5 a.m. today.

“Storms like this don’t come along very often, and when they do, everyone should get out and take advantage of it,” said Jeff Hanle, spokesman for the Aspen Skiing Co.

One of those taking advantage of the snow was Spencer Purvis, who spent his morning on Aspen Mountain, with runs on Walsh’s, Bell Mountain, Silver Queen and the dumps.

“It’s got me thinking back to ’07-08,” Purvis said, referring to a season when 250 inches of snow fell, second only to 1983-84, when 278 inches fell. “That year we had a couple of times over the course of two or three days that we had huge storms but nothing quite like this.”

With above-average snowfall for every month this season, 2013-14 is far outpacing the city’s 151-inch yearly average. This storm alone accumulated more snow than all of January 2013, when 18 inches were recorded.

Longtime local Jim Markalunas, who has records dating back to 1934, said this storm is “a biggie,” but it won’t be the biggest. The most memorable snowstorm, he said, took place in March 1965, when 38 inches fell in a two-day period and the Tompkins Hardware store collapsed. Another 22 inches fell a few days later, totalling 60 inches in the span of five days.

“This will go down in the record book, but it’s not the biggest snowstorm,” Markalunas said.

He said it’s important to note that the snow in this storm has a water content of 8 percent, which is much lighter than snowfall in March. Another memorable storm, he said, came in February 1936, when 21 inches fell in a two-day span.

On Friday, Skico CEO Mike Kaplan took to Twitter, urging his employees to get out on the mountain.

“24 inches in 24 hours @AspenSnowmass, biggest storm in 20 years?! Hall pass for ASC employees, take a run or face consequences,” he Tweeted.

National Weather Service forecaster Matt Aleksa called for anywhere between 6 to 12 inches between Grand Mesa and Vail, with Aspen on the higher end of that estimate.

“For you guys, probably about a foot,” he said, adding that there’s potential for another 2 to 4 inches on top of that into Saturday evening. “It’s been quite a prolific storm.”

Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said a storm like this sets the area up for the rest of the season. People thinking about booking a trip here will now pull the trigger, he said.

“If we continue to see average snowfall, then we’ll be great. If we see above average, we’ll be even better,” Hanle said.

herk@aspentimes.com


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The Post Independent Updated Jan 31, 2014 10:16PM Published Jan 31, 2014 10:16PM Copyright 2014 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.