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  • Durangoans rejoicing in late snowfall

    White stuff brings out families, sledders, skiers

    Falling snow raised spirits as folks finally got to enjoy some winter sports and not worry whether or not they would have a white Christmas.

    “We sure are glad that we finally got some snow,” Beverly Lopez said while sledding with her 7-year-old son, Xavier, at Buckley Park. “We were worried we’d have a brown Christmas,” said the fourth-generation Durangoan.

    Durango is now “a real winter wonderland,” said Anne Klein, public-relations consultant for the Durango Area Tourism Office. “The whole state is aglow” now that its gotten a good frosting of snow, she said.

    Xavier was smiling shortly after coming off a sled run. The youngster noted that Buckley was better than Chapman Hill because the latter can be icy.

    “We love Buckley Park because the grade isn’t as steep as Chapman Hill,” his mother said. Lopez noted, however, that Buckley’s recent relandscaping added some boulders that get in the way.

    Lopez has been enjoying winter activities in Durango her whole life. Her connection and love for Durango go way back. Her great-grandfather, Xavier Maximilian Lopez, was an engineer on the Durango & Rio Grande Railway when the train was still servicing the mines.

    Klein, too, continued to express her excitement about the new snow.

    “It’s fantastic,” she said. “We were patient and Mother Nature delivered.”

    Klein, Lopez and others are likely to remain in a state of excitement as bouts of snowfall are expected to continue in the early part of the week, according to forecasts from the National Weather Service.

    The weather service forecast Sunday evening suggested some freshening of the snow through Wednesday, including a 50 percent chance of at least some snow tonight and blowing snow in some areas Tuesday. However, little or no significant accumulations are expected at lower elevations.

    All of this snow will allow Hesperus Ski Area to open at noon Thursday with free skiing. The regular season will officially start Friday.

    While lift tickets will be free Thursday afternoon, lessons and tubing rates remain in place, according to the area’s website. Complimentary lift tickets should be picked up at the ticket counter.

    Some 80 percent of Hesperus is lighted. Updates are available on the Ski Hesperus Facebook page. The area is 11 miles west of Durango on U.S. Highway 160.

    The weather service forecast calls for partly cloudy nights Wednesday through Saturday. The low Wednesday night is expected to be around zero degrees in Durango, and it will stay cold – about 9 to 11 degrees above zero – the next couple of nights.

    Daytime temperatures could melt some snow later in the week, with Durango’s high expected to remain below freezing through Thursday, but then a warming to about 40 degrees begins Friday and Saturday.

    For other ski areas:

    Wolf Creek Ski Area is back to its regular operating hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week. Sunday morning the resort reported snow depths of 48 inches at the summit and 46 inches at the base. Lift tickets return to normal rates today. All lifts are open as of Sunday.

    Wolf Creek Ski School also is open and available for all abilities. The school has both group and private lessons, including the Wolf Pups program, the area reported. Ski and snowboard rentals are available and Treasure Sports is open as well.

    Silverton Mountain opened Saturday, and by Sunday morning had about 14 inches of new snow during the previous 48 hours, according to its website. Lifts start running at 9 a.m.

    Colorado Ski Country USA reported that Silverton has about 30 inches of powder at mid-mountain, while Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort has 26 inches of powder and packed powder midway. The mountain is open Friday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Telluride had 19 inches of powder and packed powder at mid-mountain by Sunday morning, Colorado Ski Country noted on its website.

    rgalin@durangoherald.com

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