Can a ski resort have too much snow?
Can a ski resort have too much snow? Snow Safety Patroller Ryan Evanczyk stands on the mountainside at Arapahoe Basin ski area, where he works, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, in Arapahoe, Colo. Evanczyk has had his hands full lately performing avalanche mitigation, given the large amount of recent snowfall. (AP Photo/P. Solomon Banda)
Can a ski resort have too much snow?
Lexile: 1120L

Assign to Google Classroom

For ski resorts in Colorado and the Sierra Nevada, it's a good problem to have: too much snow.
Recent storms walloping mountains across the West dropped up to 10 feet of snow, creating thrilling powdery runs. But once avalanche danger emerged on roads and at the slopes, several resorts made the unusual move of shutting down.
While the closures cost resorts income from lift tickets, the businesses will likely make it up in the long run by promoting the fresh snow on Twitter and getting more people excited to come up and carve powder turns.
"It's like you just go out and get barreled, you drop in and come up, an' pah! Drop back down. Powder everywhere in your face, you know? ... Mashed potato powder," said John Lencki, a New Hampshire native who was skiing Jan. 12 at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.
It's a change from previous years beleaguered by drought. Even this season, the Colorado snowpack got off to its worst start in more than 30 years, forcing some ski areas to push back opening day this fall.
Here's a look at the problems - and joy - a thick blanket of snow can bring to ski resorts in the West:
How often do resorts close because of too much snow?
Heavy snow typically does not affect resort operations, but it often creates problems on the roads leading to the slopes, said Chris Linsmayer, a spokesman for Colorado Ski Country USA, an industry group representing more than 20 resorts.
"It's extremely rare (for snow to close a resort); I've been skiing my whole life and it's never happened to me," he said.
Why were the resorts in Colorado closed?
Avalanches pose problems, more so on roads than at the resorts. Ski patrollers use explosives to mitigate slides every day and close portions of resorts that are at risk.
"We have closures and we have ropes. We have gates, and we really try to steer people to specific areas of the hill to keep them out of avalanche terrain," said Ryan Evanczyk, a ski patroller at Arapahoe Basin.
But "the big message here is not necessarily the mountain is unsafe, but the roads to get to and from the mountain were unsafe," Linsmayer said.
How much snow has fallen?
The three Colorado resorts that closed received 3 to 5 feet over several days.
In the Sierra Nevada, storms dumped the most snow the mountains have seen in six years, the National Weather Service in Reno said. It helped ease the effects of California's lingering drought, with federal monitors saying that more than 40 percent of California is out of drought.
Why is Colorado seeing extreme avalanche danger?
"The simple answer is we've gotten a lot of snow in a short amount of time," said Ethan Greene, director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
He compared the snowpack to the construction of a building, where if you build one story at a time, the foundation has a chance to adjust to the added weight.
"But if you plunk down a 20-story building in a couple of minutes, it's likely to break," he said. "When you have this amount of snow in a couple of days, it piles up really fast and the snowpack has a hard time adjusting to the new load.
"With that rapid loading - a lot of weight in a short amount of time - it becomes unstable," Greene said.

Source URL:

Filed Under:  
Assigned 55 times
How are explosives used to promote safety?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • trentmclemore1-dia
    1/26/2017 - 11:49 a.m.


  • trentmclemore1-dia
    1/26/2017 - 11:49 a.m.

    i dont know

  • taylorcoggins-dia
    1/26/2017 - 12:06 p.m.

    why would anybody want to go on a mountain.

  • kaileew-ste
    1/26/2017 - 02:05 p.m.

    For some of the ski resorts, there have been storms causing 10 feet of snow. Three Colorado resorts closed due to the snow. This is ironic that the snow resorts closed because there's to much snow.

  • daltons1-ste
    1/27/2017 - 01:27 p.m.

    Iv'e never heard of a ski resort closing because of too much snow, iv'e heard of too little snow closing a resort.

  • monicas-ste
    1/27/2017 - 01:43 p.m.

    That's pretty crazy. Too much snow can be a problem. At least they have a way of helping with that.

  • nidhit-jon
    1/27/2017 - 01:46 p.m.

    Explosives to mitigate slides every day and close portions of resorts that are at risk.
    I can not believe that resort are closing because of SNOW!!!

  • daphnec1-sch
    2/03/2017 - 03:13 p.m.

    For some sking is a very fun activity there fore leading to happiness but is this prusute healthy i say no scince if you die you are not healthy "Avalanches pose problems, more so on roads than at the resorts. Ski patrollers use explosives to mitigate slides every day and close portions of resorts that are at risk."

  • gagev-5-pla
    2/08/2017 - 08:16 p.m.

    I don't like the idea about closing down the hill because of to much snow. Winter is my favorite time of the year and I love to go snowboarding. I don't get to go much because with this weather in Wisconsin the temperature swings from warm to freezing so the true powder feeling is always gone within a day. They did make some very good points on how avalanches could occur because of how much snow fell. I really liked the analogy that they made about how snow is like a building. If you add to many stories to fast, the building is likely to break.

  • kaydeen-4-pla
    2/09/2017 - 02:58 p.m.

    What happened is there was a ton of snow that came in through Colorado. It was like 3 to 5 feet over the course of a few days. The ski resorts were closed because all the snow needs time to settle otherwise it can be very hazardous to those who ski on top of it. Also, they are experiencing avalanches because of how much snow is coming in such little time. I personally think this is just so crazy. I would never have thought that a ski resort would ever have to close because of too much snow. It actually really surprises me. I often complain about the snow here in Wisconsin but I guess I should feel grateful that we don't have terrible things like that happen!

Take the Quiz Leave a comment