Lightning closes lifts at Vail, Beaver Creek

Tamara Miller

EAGLE COUNTY – A snowy spring thunderstorm forced Vail and Beaver Creek mountains to stop running chairlifts for about 45 minutes Wednesday afternoon.Both resorts stopped running chairlifts around 2:15 p.m. after spotting lightning in the area. Most of the lifts were back up and running by around 3 p.m. Vail Mountain opted to stay open until 4:30 p.m. – an extra half-hour to make up for temporary closure.Leah Drew had stopped for lunch in Beaver Creek’s mid-mountain cafe, Spruce Saddle, when ski patrol told patrons that the lifts were closed because of lightning, she said. “It’s just extremely nasty,” Drew said, talking on a cell phone as she skied down the mountain. “It’s just snowing sideways and there’s really, really strong wind.”Vail Mountain will not restart lifts until no lightning has been spotted for 20 minutes, said Jen Brown, Vail Mountain spokeswoman. The ski resorts commonly close their lifts for at least 20 minutes after lightning is spotted.It also is not uncommon for spring thunderstorms to force ski resorts to stop chairlifts temporarily.Beaver Creek kept three chairlifts on the east side of the resort – Rose Bowl, Cinch and Drink of Water lifts – closed for the rest of the day because of high winds, said Christina Schleicher, spokeswoman for Beaver Creek. All of the lifts on the front side of Vail Mountain re-opened. The Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin remained closed because those lifts close by 3 or 3:30 p.m. anyway, Brown said. The storm Wednesday brought wet snow in the higher elevations. The National Weather Service is predicting a 50 percent chance of snow today, with a chance of snow for the weekend.Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or, Colorado

Support Local Journalism