It’s definitely been a weird winter for most of us. Some areas got dumped on all season (we’re looking at you Washington state and Jackson), some places like California had record dry starts but then got really lucky (#MiracleMarch), and the East Coast saw unseen snowfall from nor’easter Quinn, delivering a few lucky resorts up to three feet in one day.
For some areas, though, it just never came at all. The San Juan Mountains, particularly in the southern reaches of the range, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains are experiencing historic conditions, in the opposite way. Southwest Colorado’s snowpack has been barely above half on historic averages.
As a result of the terribly dry season, some of the area’s resorts have had to turn the lifts off early. In the past week alone, the southern San Juans have seen the closure of Colorado’s Wolf Creek Ski resort, which received 227” compared to last year’s 430”, and Taos Ski Valley of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in New Mexico which had to close as the result of a statewide drought.
Per historical averages, Taos Ski Valley typically sees around 300” of snowfall during any given season. This year, the resort received a paltry 78”. According to officials at the resort, that number represents an all-time low.
“From all the record keeping we’ve had from the past 60 years, [the snowpack is] definitely the lowest we’ve seen,” a spokeswoman from Taos Ski Valley explained.
“Usually we get a lot more than we did, definitely by mid-February and March we started seeing more snow come down—but it was so late in the season,” the spokeswoman added.
Over the last five years, annual snowfall average has been 161.8” for the resort, so Taos Ski Valley wasn’t caught completely by surprise. Over the past few years, the resort has had to invest in efficient and sustainable snowmaking, which paid off this season.