Snowmaking starts at Aspen Snowmass and natural snow accumulates at mountaintops |

Snowmaking starts at Aspen Snowmass and natural snow accumulates at mountaintops

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Snowmakers Jay Clapper, left, and Cody Webb connect hoses together to the snowmaking machines and their water sources on Thursday at Aspen Mountain.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times


October was the first month since April that Aspen received more precipitation than average for the month. Here are the monthly totals.

May 0.77

June 1.19

July 1.02

August 1.58

September 0.52

October 2.49

*Source: Aspen Water Plant

With ski season less than three weeks away, Aspen Skiing Co. has cranked up its snowmaking and is also getting bursts of natural snow.

Snowmaking started Halloween night at Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Snowmass. It is scheduled to start in mid-November at Buttermilk. Skico traditionally lets the man-made snow fly anytime conditions are favorable after Halloween.

Upper ski slopes received up to 2 feet of snow early in October and some had received an additional 11 inches in the prior 48 hours as of Thursday mid-morning, Skico reported.

That’s a far cry from last season. Warm temperatures limited snowmaking before Thanksgiving and made it spotty into January. Aspen Mountain was able to open on time thanks to a snowstorm right before Thanksgiving but Snowmass had to wait to open.

This year, temperatures stayed cold enough for a sustained time to allow Skico to start making snow right out of the gate.

“All of our systems are tested and ready and you should hear the sounds of snowmaking on the streets of Aspen,” Katie Ertl, senior vice president of mountain operations for Aspen Snowmass said in a prepared statement. “Bootpacking has started (in Highland Bowl), our maintenance projects are wrapping up and our teams are preparing the mountains for opening day.”

Aspen Mountain and Snowmass will open Nov. 22. Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk will open Dec. 8.

Snowmaking on Aspen Mountain centered on Deer Park, Spar Gulch and the Little Nell trails. Snowmass began blowing snow on Elk Camp Meadows and plans to target Hal’s Hollow and Scooper.

The snow cams at Skico’s four resorts show impressive snow coverage at the mountaintops.

The Aspen Water Plant reported yesterday that it received 2.49 inches of precipitation in October — more than the 2.1 inches that fell in August and September combined.

“With 2.49 inches of total precipitation we were significantly above average of 1.82 inches,” wrote Laura Taylor, who compiled the monthly weather reports at the water plant. “We recorded 10.5 inches of snowfall, again above the average of 8.92 inches.

“This was the first month since April 2018 that our total precipitation was above average,” Taylor concluded in her report.

For the year-to-date, the water plant has received 15.03 inches of precipitation. That’s below the average of 18.58 inches.

The summer was dry with every month below average. The water plant received 0.77 inches precipitation in May compared with an average of 1.88 inches; it received 1.19 inches in June compared with an average of 1.21; July brought 1.02 inches compared with the average of 1.76 inches; August brought 1.58 inches compared with the average of 1.79 inches; and September saw only 0.52 inches of rain compared with an average of 1.79 inches.

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