Snowfall in bunches making for powder spring at Powderhorn

Skiers and boarders take advantage of one of many recent powder days at Powderhorn Mountain Resort. The resort got big snowfall out of a recent storm, putting the snowpack among the best in the state. With the season starting to wind down, Powderhorn is ready for its March Madness finale.



Snow piles up on picnic tables recently at Powderhorn Mountain Resort. All this recent snow could be a result of the state’s $1 million cloud-seeding program, paid for by water managers and ski resorts and said to boost snowfall by up to 15 percent.



Maybe you might start looking for snorkels in the ski shop at Powderhorn Mountain Resort.

Tuesday afternoon, the resort reported 19 inches of fresh pow had fallen on the mountain between 5 a.m. and 3 p.m., on top of the 31 inches over the weekend and 43 for the past week, enough for face shots in the glades and powder-puff landings everywhere else.

“That brings the resort to a 70-inch base (79 as of Tuesday afternoon), so we’re looking pretty good right now,” Powderhorn General Manager Daren Cole said Monday. “We’re right up there among the most snow in the state.”

There even is a brief video clip on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/embed/hUFby3nsNGY) highlighting all that new pow.

The only thing missing from the Powderhorn snow report is a snow-cam similar to those at Crested Butte and Telluride, which offer right-now reports of new snow and often are the first thing looked at by skiers and riders seeking the latest snow conditions.

“As soon as we can get WiFi on the mountain, we’ll put one in,” promised Cole, who was instrumental in having the first snow-cam installed at Crested Butte.

He added that last year, when Crested Butte was short-changed in the snowfall department, small offerings started appearing mysteriously on the webcam platform as appeasement for the snow gods.

“I’m not sure it helped, though,” he said.

All the recent snow might be thanks to the state’s $1 million cloud-seeding program, paid for by water managers and ski resorts and said to boost snowfall by up to 15 percent.

The cloud seeding program in Colorado began 35 years ago and since 1987 has been under the oversight of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

The program currently involves burning silver iodide in ground-based generators to inject tiny particles of the material into approaching weather systems.

It’s thought the tiny slivers of silver iodide provide nucleii for snow crystals.

Cloud-seeding in Colorado usually begins during November, depending on the suitability of the storms. The program mostly is aimed at increasing the snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin, but Powderhorn benefits when snow-loaded storms back up on Grand Mesa.

“I’ll be curious to see how (cloud-seeding) plays out,” Cole said. “I think the last I saw the Grand Mesa snowpack was at 80-85 percent of normal.”

That’s a bit above snowpack levels around the rest of the Western Slope, which are averaging 77 percent of normal.

With its March 31 closing date only five weeks off, Powderhorn has announced its plans for a March Madness finale.

First, starting Saturday, the weekend bus service is free, a move to increase ridership and to ease the drive to the mountain.

The bus picks up Saturdays and Sundays at three locations in Grand Junction: near Cabela’s in the Mesa Mall at 7 a.m.; Albertsons at 12th and Orchard at 7:45 and near Gold’s Gym in Clifton at 8 a.m.

The bus returns to Grand Junction at 4:30 p.m.

Also this weekend, the Buddy Werner West Council championships are at Powderhorn.

This event attracts the top young skiers (ages 5-15) and is a great showcase for the resort.

“The races move around the state and were at Steamboat last year,” Cole said. “We’re very fortunate to have them. It’s a great opportunity for us to show off our resort to skiers from around the state.”

He said when the resort last year hosted the state J5 and J6 championships, one remark heard was, “I didn’t realize how big (the resort) was.”

“It’s good to expose other skiers to all Powderhorn has to offer,” Cole said.

Saturday also is the always-popular Powderhorn Telefest, with clinics starting at 8:30 a.m.

For more about the Telefest and other March events, go to http://www.powderhorn.com/events/telefest.


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