They had planned the trip for months. You would have to book the reservations months in advance as a Christmas trip to Telluride, Colorado would be highly coveted by most. Instead of tons of trails covered in powdery snow, they were instead confronted with barren slopes, warm temperatures and sunny skies.
Such was the case for family of my husband’s co-worker who went to Telluride over the Christmas holidays. On Christmas Day, Telluride was reporting a total of 19 inches of snow fallen for the season and a mere nine trails open for skiing. And they’re not the only ski area suffering.
The Grand Junction Sentinel reported that Powderhorn Ski Resort, near Grand Junction, Colorado announced earlier this week that they would be closed Monday – Wednesday in order to preserve the 7 inches on snow on the three trails they currently have open. Yes, you read that right, 7 inches of snow! Having worked in the ski resort industry for many years, I can tell you that I don’t even consider skiing until the base reaches 2-3 feet.
Sunlight Ski Resort outside of Glenwood Springs also has only three trails out of 67 currently open.
During the ten years we have lived in Colorado, I can’t remember a winter like this — the winter that wasn’t. Weather forecasters keep looking at long-term models hoping for a break in the pattern, and though an occasional storm has dropped snow on the northern and central mountains, we seem to revert back to dry and warm. That storm door just won’t open.
Fortunately, Winter Park where I teach skiing has been better than most, receiving 100 inches total. Still, after years of skiing there, I can see the difference — tree tops poking out the top of the snow on trails that should be buried in snow many feet deep. Rocks jutting out here and there and patches of dirt more reminiscent of skiing at Thanksgiving rather than mid-January.
I’m trying not to despair. Having lived here for a decade, I’ve also seen winter make up significant ground during the spring months of March, April and May. In fact, at our home in Nederland, most of our big snowstorms have come during those spring months. But it’s hard not to worry, not only about the lack of revenue for a state that normally hauls in billions of dollars at the hands of its ski resorts. But also feeling concern when thinking about the long-term effects on wildfire danger. Current snow pack levels for the state currently sit at 56%. If the snows don’t come in soon, we’ll be in real trouble by June.
Tonight’s weather forecast says snow will fall tonight and tomorrow. I can only hope this will lead to the change in weather we’ve been hoping and praying for.
Time to do the snow dance!