Big snow in Glenwood
The skies dumped more than a foot of snow on Glenwood Springs Thursday and Friday, and there’s another storm right behind it.
The storm, driven by a persistent flow directing moisture from the northwest U.S, dumped 22 inches of snow accumulation, according to the weather observers at KMTS. More than a foot of snow fell between 7 a.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. Friday.
Oddly enough, it was mostly a downvalley storm. Carbondale got nearly seven inches overnight into Friday morning. Sunlight Mountain reported 9 inches from Wednesday to Friday morning and 14 inches in the past four days. It just kept snowing on Friday.
“We weren’t prepared for there to be more than 20 inches,” Glenwood Springs Assistant City Manager Jenn Ooton said.
Glenwood Springs City Hall initially had a delayed opening, then closed down for the day. But the plows kept running, and the city hired a number of contractors to push snow around.
Usually, the city takes the snow from city streets to the airport, but that was too far of a trip for today so dump trucks deposited the snow into piles at the old wastewater treatment facility parking lot on Seventh Street.
“We definitely had to add some additional help to our city crews,” Ooton said.
Forty people were working to clear Glenwood streets, and city crews put in more than 445 hours from Wednesday morning to Thursday.
“Our crews were working really, really hard,” Ooton said.
Rifle, which got 7 inches overnight into Friday, also needed some extra equipment to to help the city’s four regular single axel plow trucks.
“This last go-round we had a reserve truck we got out on the road as well as a loader with auxiliary plow on it. We even have a little light duty three-quarter-ton Ford running with a smaller plow on it trying to keep up,” said Colton Secary, superintendent for operations and maintenance.
“For our small crew of 8 or 9 guys, I think we did a fairly good job,” he said.
For those not having to clear the streets, a snow day is just code for “powder day.”
Justin Kulacz of Glenwood Springs was enjoying the fresh powder at Sunlight.
“It’s fantastic. Fresh tracks everywhere you go, and there’s enough for everybody,” Kulacz said as he took a quick break after a run on the East Ridge.
Whitney Gross of Glenwood Springs was also on the slopes entertaining her trio of youngsters — Mary Jane, Cal and Van Gross — who had a snow day from school.
“What else do you do on a snow day?,” she exclaimed. “Otherwise, I would have been at home, and they’d be in school.”
Some of the snow should melt off Saturday, before the next storm starts.
“We’ll have a break on Saturday, and the next system drops in from the north Saturday evening and overnight into Sunday,” Matthew Aleksa, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said.
“The mountains just to the south of Glenwood could see anywhere from 6 to 12 inches with that storm,” Aleksa said.
The inconvenience of snow dumps aside, the storms are helpful in making up for the dry fall conditions. Still, individual snowstorms don’t go too far in changing snowpack levels basin-wide.
“In terms of the whole snowpack for the entire basin, it’s not going to make a huge difference. But it does help, for sure,” Aleksa said.
According to automatic SNOTEL reports, the Upper Colorado River Basin is around 114% of normal snowpack.
Statewide, the snowpack as of Feb. 1 was about two thirds of the average peak, according to a recent Natural Resources Conservation Service report.
That’s an encouraging sign, especially since the dry fall led to predictions of a dry winter.
“While the dry early season conditions have led to forecasts lower than the snowpack may suggest it is still encouraging to have the snowpack that we do with a few more months of accumulation left,” hydrologist Karl Wetlaufer said in the report.
The next two weeks look good for more snow, according to Aleksa, but after that it’s unclear whether the year will track with the average snowfall, or if the state will see massive spring snows like last year.
“(As) the last two winters have shown, things can continue to be variable and a lot can still change,” Wetlaufer wrote.
John Stroud and Kyle Mills also contributed to this report.
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Warmer than average temperatures and a lack of snowfall could push back Sunlight Mountain Resort’s opening day, but staff remain hopeful for a Dec. 10 opening, a Sunlight spokesperson said.