Colorado’s ski season comes to an early end after snowless, warm fall

Rising temperatures and easterly winds across the state of Colorado have meant a subdued end to the ski season for most resorts at the top of the Rockies.

This week a once-in-several-generations snow event has left some resorts chugging their way down slopes that remained unplowed for weeks.

With the soil saturated and temperatures rising, it’s likely that this season will end as a weak one, with skiers battling two seasons. The first snow event began Sept. 21, then ended about a week later. High temperatures also contributed to a slow period of snowmaking in the heart of the ski areas.

The Powderhorn Resort, just west of Grand Junction, was waiting for even more snowfall before it would get started on its seasonal passes. As the session began Sept. 21, Powderhorn head of communications, Gavin Tomlin said, “We haven’t skied yet.”

The Denver Post/AP/File Jimmy Edwards at the base of Powderhorn Ski Resort in Colorado, where the front end of a ski lift was moved on Sunday to make way for white stuff.

By Sept. 28 Powderhorn was opening its towering chairlift, allowing skiers and riders to roll out of the parking lot, head north and into the snow-packed slopes.

But even then it was far from where it needed to be. Powderhorn, which this season had been operating on a weekend schedule due to wet weather, would not receive nearly enough snow to cover up bare powder on the inner runs. In some spots, the mountainside glades remained stubbornly barren.

“I’m happy that the day has finally come that a total weekend opens is something that is possible,” Tomlin said, speaking from the top of the one-mile lift.

But even powderless Colorado’s winter base of 6 to 8 inches makes sense when compared to resorts in Western New York, where tens of thousands of people turn out each winter to shop and soak up the cold weather in some of the world’s premier ski towns, like Buffalo.

Nestled in the historic heart of Buffalo, ski area Snow Summit opened with less than a foot of fresh snow, while nearby Kitzbuehel in Austria received 37 inches.

The Buffalo News/AP/File One of the life-size chocolate bears that grace the tree at Lucky Chance coffee shop in Buffalo, New York, before opening day.

And yet, the spring snow reports continue to dazzle. Plows are currently in the crosshairs of the solar winter storm, with one crash landing on Main Street in Oneonta Tuesday morning, causing a traffic hazard while snow plows clear the streets.

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