Ski area snow totals keep on ticking up; Keystone announces season extension |

Ski area snow totals keep on ticking up; Keystone announces season extension

Kevin Fixler

Keystone Resort. File photo
Mackenzie Russo / Keystone Resort

Total Snowfall Through Jan. 26

Arapahoe Basin: 214 inches (350-inch seasonal average)

Breckenridge Ski Resort: 198 inches (353-inch seasonal average)

Copper Mountain: 191 inches (304-inch seasonal average)

Keystone Resort: 191 inches (235-inch seasonal average)

Loveland Ski Area: 223 inches (422-inch seasonal average)

Summit County will see a break from storms until around Feb. 4, based on forecasts, after what has already been a sizable winter.

It’s been big enough, in fact, that Keystone Resort announced late Wednesday that it already made the call to commit to a weeklong season extension through Easter Sunday, April 16. That’s after nearly 7 feet of snow in December for the sixth-snowiest single month in the resort’s history, and about the matching total in January, and counting.

“This is the snowiest single month at Keystone in the past 20 years,” Russ Carlton, spokesman for Keystone, wrote by email of January’s 82 inches as of Thursday. “With the books still open on January, the 191 inches-to-date is tied for the third-highest snow total through the end of the month.”

The region’s other resorts are no different. Arapahoe Basin Ski Area reports 95 inches for the month, which is double its usual snowfall for January. After 2 ½ feet fell there in a 72-hour period the second week of the month, the high-alpine ski area was forced to fold up operations midday due to avalanche concerns from the Colorado Department of Transportation on the adjacent Loveland Pass. It was the first time in memory a closure was necessary at A-Basin, and the area didn’t reopen for a full 24 hours.

Loveland Ski Area, in neighboring Clear Creek County, just east of Eisenhower Tunnel, also reported about twice its historical snowfall for January, with a whopping 115 inches. That brings its season-to-date tally up to a region-leading 223 inches as of Thursday. This same time last season — measured at a slightly below-average year for most — Loveland was at 186 inches, which is a difference of more than 3 feet.

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Likewise, already counting 214 inches for the season and several more months of winter still on the horizon, A-Basin is well on its way to surpassing its 296 inches of aggregate snow during the 2015-16 season, and on pace to at least reach its annual season average of 350. Last year, the ski area didn’t close until mid-June.

Loveland and Arapahoe Basin customarily duke it out to be the first ski area to open in the state each year. This season, A-Basin actually ended up being the first one to start spinning lifts in all of North America when it opened on Oct. 21. The rest of the resorts were slightly delayed due to a dearth of snow, with Loveland first opening almost a full month later, on Nov. 20, as just the second ski area in the state to unlatch its gates.

Since then, however, it’s been anything but a dry spell in the county, as resorts work their way toward above-average totals, if not record months and possibly even all-time season highs.

“It’s hard to say what will happen,” said John Sellers, spokesman for Loveland, noting March and April are typically the ski area’s snowiest months. “If we see above-average snowfall from here on out, we will finish the season above the 400-inch mark.”

Keystone’s extension announcement gives a nod to that idea, and besting its reported 292 inches last season should be no problem, especially with the extra week into mid-April. At nearly 2 feet ahead of this same time last year — and with more than 70 inches in consecutive months in December and January for the first time since the resort opened in November 1970 — this winter may be one to remember.

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