The snowstorm gripping much of the West delivered only a glancing blow to Southwest Colorado – but it brought enough snow for Wolf Creek Ski Area to begin a limited opening on Wednesday.
Roseanne Pitcher, co-owner of the resort, said the mountain had received 22 inches of snow as of 5:30 p.m. Monday.
“It’s a very wet snow, and so it’s probably packing down really great,” she said.
Pitcher said the best way to get the base to pack down is to have people ski on it.
Current plans are to open the three chairlifts – Nova, Bonanza and Treasure Stoke – from Wednesday to Sunday with daily lift tickets set at the local appreciation rate of $58.
After Sunday, Pitcher will reassess to see if the ski area will remain open and to see if it can finalize a schedule for November.
As far as more snow coming, that looks unlikely, said Erin Walter, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
Walter said a small storm cell will follow later this week, but it looks too weak to bring moisture to Southwest Colorado. Later this week, a high-pressure ridge is expected to move in bringing clear skies and temperatures back up to seasonal averages, she said.
As of 2 p.m., the Weather Service had only two snowfall reports from La Plata County, 0.2 inch was reported in Bayfield and 0.1 inch in Durango as the warm ground kept snow from accumulating.
Purgatory Resort General Manger Dave Rathbun said the mountain received a dusting at the base and a few inches at the summit. Perhaps the best news, he said, was temperatures on the mountain ranged from 19 to 22 degrees, and snowmaking was possible most of the day.
Elsewhere in the San Juan Mountains, snowfall totals never reached predicted levels at higher elevations, Walter said; more snow was seen north of the San Juan Mountains.
“You still could see several inches on higher peaks, and it looks like Wolf Creek Pass is favored,” she said.
Warm temperatures of roads in Southwest Colorado kept conditions from deteriorating.
Lisa Schwantes, spokeswoman with the Colorado Department of Transportation, said chains or alternative-traction devices were required Monday afternoon on Wolf Creek Pass and on Red Mountain Pass.
Otherwise, she said warm ground conditions kept road conditions from becoming problematic at lower elevations in Southwest Colorado.
CDOT’s COtrip website was the best place to get the latest information about highway conditions as well as getting live webcam feeds, she said.