Aspen snowguns fire away
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN, Colorado ” At about this time last year, Aspen, Colorado wasn’t sure it would have enough snow to open the slopes for Thanksgiving, let alone host December World Cup races.
Opening weekend, skiers may recall, was rather unimpressive, but Mother Nature came through in early December with a winter storm that forced cancellation of some of the races.
This year, the race course on Aspen Mountain is already a ribbon of white, thanks to the best early season stretch of cold weather in recent memory.
“From last Tuesday until sometime late on Saturday, we blew straight through,” said Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle. “That’s a very good stretch for this time of year.
“We were having 2 million [gallon] days, which are big days,” he said.
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The Skico was turning 1 to 2 million gallons of water a day into snow during the cold stretch, Hanle said, and more chilly temperatures this week could have the snowguns on Aspen Mountain and at Snowmass cranking again.
In addition, the guns at Aspen Highlands were fired up for the first time last Wednesday, Hanle said.
To maximize the use of the water, the Skico makes snow when conditions are ideal ” extended periods when the temperatures don’t rise above about 22 degrees, he said.
“For like four straight days, we had those temperature up on the mountain,” Hanle said.
Mother Nature may aid in the effort again this week.
A chance of snow is in Aspen’s forecast all week, but snow is likely Monday night and Tuesday, with total accumulations of up to 4 inches in town, according to the National Weather Service.
Tuesdays forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies with a 30 percent chance of snow and highs of 25 to 35.
On Wednesday, the weather service is calling for mostly cloudy skies with a 50 percent chance of snow and highs in the 30s. The forecast for Thursday and Friday is much the same, though the chance of snow drops to 40 percent on Thursday and 20 percent on Friday.
Overnight lows of 15 to 25 are expected early in the week, warming into the 20s on Thursday night before falling to the 10-to-20 range on Friday night.
This year, Aspen Mountain is scheduled to host a women’s World Cup giant slalom on Nov. 29 and a slalom event on Nov. 30.