Powder piles up on slopes with recent storm

A skier takes to the steep and deep at Monarch Ski Resort, where more than 30 inches of new snow have fallen since Monday. Most of the state’s ski resorts are feeling the punch of the Pineapple Express, a southern-trending storm forecast to bring up to 6 feet of snow to parts of Colorado’s mountains.

Help, it’s snowing and it won’t let up.

Call in sick. Break out the fat boards, the goggles and the snorkels.

If you’ve been waiting until this week to get out your skis, your timing is perfect.

According to snow reports from the ski industry trade group Colorado Ski Country USA, southwest Colorado received the brunt of this week’s Pineapple Express, so called because the storm track appears to originate near the Hawaiian Islands.

Wolf Creek was digging out from 40 inches of new snow, Silverton called in with more than 50 inches, and Monarch piled on 32 inches of new snow.

Whew. And that’s just what fell by Tuesday from a storm that’s been predicted to last through Thursday.

“The National Weather Service told us we’re right in the middle of this really unique storm system,” said Erica Reiter, project coordinator at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. “It’s been crazy. We’re reporting nearly 5 feet of snow since last Thursday.”

Hey, don’t take our word for it, see it yourself.

While every resort now has one or more strategically placed web cams, one of the more-entertaining is the POW cam at Crested Butte’s website (http://www.skicb.com).

The webcam is focused on the snowboard at the Butte’s weather site near the bottom of the High Lift and there’s nothing like watching 26 inches of snow fall in fast-forward.

The board is cleared every afternoon by the National Ski Patrol, and each morning you can log on and watch the night’s snowfall.

It sure beats watching the Broncos.

Elsewhere around the state, 24-hour snowfall totals by Tuesday reached well into double digits, with Silverton hitting the 30-inch mark and both Arapahoe Basin and Loveland receiving 18 inches of new snow, Copper and Eldora getting 14 inches and Aspen Highlands and Vail both with 13.

The southern-trending storm almost missed Steamboat Ski Resort, dropping “only” 11 inches on the resort, which boasts a state-leading total of more than 150 inches for the year.

“Holiday powderhounds in Ski Town, U.S.A. are certainly going to have a very snowy Christmas,” said Rob Perlman, the resort’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “Steamboat ... recently (surpassed) the 150-inch snowfall milestone for the season, and it still hasn’t stopped snowing.”

The storm has been a season-saver for snow-starved resorts that see some of their largest crowds during the Christmas to New Year’s period.

“Colorado’s ski industry is poised for a busy season,” said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA. “We’ll likely see the early season momentum continue with resorts being active over the holidays due in part to the great snow conditions and abundant events.”

It’s particularly welcome across the southern-tier of resorts, those below the Interstate 70 dividing line, an area largely bypassed by earlier storms.

“We’re having a wonderful white Christmas,” said Crested Butte’s Reiter. “We haven’t seen a star, the sun or blue sky for almost a week.”

And it’s not just the downhill areas that are digging out.

Doug Conant, operations manager for the Grand Mesa Nordic Council, sent out an e-mail Monday saying the mesa-top ski trails were “under periods of heavy snow and drifting.”

Meteorologist Joe Ramey (“Mojo” to you Nordic Council readers) warned the storm might last until Friday, with one forecast model calling for up to 4 feet of snow by Friday.

“We’re in for it,” Ramey said.


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