New snow means longer ski season for some resorts
Posted at: 04/17/2013 9:35 AM
By COLLEEN SLEVIN
(AP) DENVER - It’s the ski season that won’t quit.
A slow-moving storm that has brought three straight days of snow and high winds to parts of Colorado and Wyoming has also given at least four Colorado ski resorts an excuse to restart their lifts for one more weekend of skiing.
Vail Mountain, Breckenridge Mountain Resort and Copper Mountain Resort held closing day festivities last Sunday, but when it didn’t stop snowing, all three said they will reopen some terrain this Friday through Sunday.
Vail said it’s had 2 more feet of snow since closing day, Breckenridge has had 16 inches, and Copper said it got more than a foot.
"Mother Nature is a fickle business partner, and apparently she wasn’t ready for the ski season to be over," Copper Mountain general manager Gary Rodgers said in a written statement Tuesday.
Aspen Highlands, which was scheduled to close this Sunday, has already said it would reopen April 27-28.
Winter Park was assessing whether to extend its season past its closing day Sunday, spokeswoman Rachel Anderson said.
The Loveland and Arapahoe Basin ski areas traditionally stay open well into the spring. A-Basin Chief Operating Officer Alan Henceroth mused this week that his ski area could stay open past June 2 if the snow keeps up.
The storm helped boost mountain snowpack that provides water for farmers and cities through the summer, but it also stranded some drivers.
More snow was falling Wednesday. In Wyoming, it shut down Interstate 25 between the state’s two main cities, Casper and Cheyenne. Departing flights at Denver International Airport were being delayed by deicing; average delays were expected to approach two hours. Travel was expected to be difficult, if not impossible, later in the day on Colorado’s plains as the system moves out of the state. The National Weather Service said wind gusts up to 50 mph could produce blizzard conditions.
The system has also reached into the Dakotas. More than 3 inches fell at the Rapid City airport on Tuesday. Forecasters said the storm could drop as much as 15 inches of snow in western South Dakota by Thursday and lesser but still-significant amounts farther east. Many schools in the Rapid City area closed or started late Wednesday.
The first round of the storm hit Denver on Monday, postponing the opening game of the Colorado Rockies-New York Mets series. The snow held off for much of the afternoon and evening Tuesday, allowing the teams to squeeze in a doubleheader. The weather remained frigid though, and one fan watched with a snowman in the next seat. Jordan Pacheco singled home the winning run and then headed for the sauna to warm up.
Areas to the south have only gotten strong winds from the system, making it easier for wildfires to spread in the dry areas.
In southwest Colorado, the La Plata Electric Association said blustery winds that downed trees and branches were believed to have caused outages that affected hundreds of customers Tuesday.
April is typically the second-snowiest month for Colorado.
The snowpack in both Colorado and Wyoming is below average but has risen in the last week to 77 percent of average overall. The Colorado Basin, which provides water to more than 40 million people in seven western states, is faring even better at 85 percent.
The storm system is expected to pick up speed as it moves east into the Great Lakes on Friday. It should move off the East Coast on Saturday, National Weather Service forecaster Jeff Colton said.
Associated Press writers Bob Moen in Cheyenne, Wyo., Catherine Tsai in Denver and Blake Nicholson in Bismarck, N.D., contributed to this report.
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