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A tale of two winters in Colorado

Brief by Allen Best

Climate – February 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine

As is so often the case, it’s shaping up as a tale of two winters in Colorado.

Along the I- 70 corridor and north at Steamboat Springs, the stories have been about the abundance of snow. Snow shovelers and plowers are making a good living, although some of them are running out of places to dump it.

This snow, along with everything else, has produced what was described in several resort locations as a banner holiday period. At Beaver Creek, the manager of Charter Sports told the Vail Daily that more skis were rented during Christmas week than had ever been rented before there — or at any other Charter Sports store. Somewhat similarly, the number of cars parked along the frontage road in Vail was up substantially.

A comparable story comes from Aspen, where the Buttermilk ski area set a “modern- day record” for users, serving some 3,163. But all four of the local ski areas at Aspen were reporting gains, none more significantly than at Highlands, where a new double- black- diamond area is drawing visitors. Again, the biggest story seems to be good snow.

In Southern Colorado, the story is an all- too- familiar one of recent years. Wolf Creek Ski Area, which often leads the state’s ski areas with an average snowfall of 435 inches, had received only 82 inches by early January. Snowpacks in that part of the state are reported to be 35 to 50 percent of normal, echoing readings of the early part of the 21st century.