Snow base at Powderhorn beats most other major Colo. ski resorts

Skiers enjoy the powder at Powderhorn Resort.

A dry December likely has most major ski resorts in Colorado offering a prayer or two to Norse snow god Ullr to deliver some of the white fluff their way.

While many of the state’s central mountain resorts are making snow and scraping by with less snowfall than they’d like, Grand Junction’s backyard ski resort, Powderhorn Mountain Resort, is experiencing a relatively good start to the skiing season.

“We have noticed people who are from this area who would normally go to Crested Butte or Aspen; we have them skiing here,” Powderhorn spokeswoman Tricia Tittle said.

Powderhorn reported a 32-inch base Thursday, which is tied with Eldora Mountain Resort for the fifth-thickest base at a ski resort in Colorado. Purgatory Ski Area reported a 34-inch base, Echo Mountain had a 40-inch base, Silverton Mountain boasted a 47-inch base, and Wolf Creek Ski Area remains the snowiest resort with a 53-inch base, according to Colorado Ski Country USA.

Many skiers and snow lovers may be reminiscing about the early, heavy snowfall of 2010 that opened resorts with a swoosh.

Even this year, Aspen-Snowmass opened five days early thanks to a good dumping of snow, but the base at Aspen Mountain since has withered to 19 inches as of Thursday. Aspen Highlands reported a 22-inch base.

“We’ve had big, early snows the past couple of years, so people get used to it,” Aspen-Snowmass spokesman Jeff Hanle said.

Light snow in December isn’t a harbinger of what snowfall will be for all of winter, and locals tend to shrug off early snowfall totals anyway, he said.

“The snow will come,” Hanle assured.

Though a live Web camera at Crested Butte Mountain Resort shows plenty of skiers shushing down a hill, bare spots of ground at the edges of the run show how much more snow is needed. Crested Butte’s base was 14 inches Thursday, which is down from about a 20-inch base in early December.

“Tourists are a little bummed out,” Crested Butte resident Britt Warden said while working at Mountain Tops, a T-shirt store in town. “We certainly have heard tale of whole groups canceling reservations. We’re all hoping for snow.”

An atypical La Nina pattern appears to be throwing some people for a loop, said Jim Daniels, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

In a second year of La Nina, which would be now, weather tends to be drier than the first year. But, in the second year of a La Nina cycle, more precipitation is expected in the north, and not the south. Contrarily, Colorado’s southern mountains have been receiving the lion’s share of the snow across the state so far, Daniels said.

Powderhorn has the advantage of being situated well because it has been subjected to storms from the south and northwest, Daniels said.

Overall this year, Grand Junction is above normal for precipitation with 9.76 inches since Jan. 1. Normal precipitation for a year is 9.36 inches. Snowfall to date since Dec. 1 has been 2.1 inches, and last year it was 2.2 inches for the month of December. Normal amounts of snowfall in Grand Junction are 6.8 inches per year.

Unfortunately for snow bunnies, the dry weather looks to be sticking around, at least locally, for some time, with sunny skies and highs in the 40s forecast through Wednesday.


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