Early season powder days in the forecast for Aspen area resorts

Audrey Ryan The Aspen Times
Snowboarder enjoys fresh powder on Tuesday.
Courtesy of Jordan Curet

Aspen Mountain and Snowmass may have opened early, but, still, the mountains have thirsted for snow.

On Opening Day, Ajax mountain manager Travis Benson said what they would be able to open next would depend heavily on Mother Nature, despite their snowmaking capabilities. Mother Nature seems to have listened and is delivering a couple of storms throughout the next week.

The first storm hit Monday evening and dumped 11 inches at Snowmass, putting the 34 inch base at 109% of its average total this time of year, according to OpenSnow. Ajax received eight inches of snow, where the 22-inch base is 95% of its average this time of year. Snowmass is 18% open, with 443 acres of skiable area. Ajax is 41% open and has 320 acres of skiable area.

Aspen Snowmass declared Tuesday to be the first powder day of the season.

“The storm comes at the start of the season’s second week, and the new snow will continue to help our mountain-operations teams to open more terrain in the coming days,” Aspen Skiing Co. officials wrote in a press release.

Aspen Highlands received a foot of snow, preparing it for its Opening Day on Dec. 10. Buttermilk received six inches and is still scheduled to open Dec. 17.

According to the National Weather Service, scattered snow showers remained through midday Tuesday.

A break in the storm is forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, both of which will be dry days. Wednesday will have a high of 27 and a low of 12, while Thursday will have a high near 31 and a low of 20. Late Thursday night or early Friday morning, the National Weather Service predicts a chance of snow showers. Snow showers will continue through early next week.

OpenSnow founder Joel Gratz forecasts between 2-5 inches of snow Thursday and Friday at the four Aspen Snowmass resorts.

“My best estimate is that there will be some fresh snow to ride during the day on Friday, and the snow quality will be on the thicker side due to strong winds and relatively warm temperatures,” he wrote.

Skico’s. website reminds skiers and riders to be cautious during early season conditions.

With a storm comes a plethora of traffic delays and accidents. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, there were several reports of icy and snow packed spots on Highway 82 between Glenwood Springs and Aspen.

Additionally, Aspen Mountain Patrol was setting off charges for avalanche prevention on Tuesday morning. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, Aspen Mountain and Snowmass are in dangerous avalanche condition areas above and near the tree line. Human-triggered avalanches are likely, and the center recommends avoiding areas where more than a foot of snow fell to reduce the chances of triggering an avalanche.

Aspen School District had a two hour delayed start on Tuesday, giving roads time to clear up and weather to subside before starting the school day.

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