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?
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For ski resorts in Colorado and the Sierra Nevada, it's a good problem to have: too much snow.
Recent storms that walloped 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. The resorts will promote the fresh snow and get 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. He is 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. It is an industry group that represents 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. Portions of resorts that are at risk are closed.
"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.
"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. Federal monitors said 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. 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.

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How are explosives used to promote safety?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • angelal-atk
    1/24/2017 - 01:19 p.m.

    Two reason too much snow can be a problem is because of the avalanche danger and it could make some resorts loose money because they had to close. It is extremely rare for too much snow to close a resort. Ski patrollers use explosives to mitigate slides every day.

  • sethk-atk
    1/24/2017 - 01:19 p.m.

    they may bring the snow down hill when no one is there.

  • dylans1-har
    1/24/2017 - 04:45 p.m.

    How are explosives used to promote safety? Explosives are used to promote safety by using explosives to mitigate slides everyday. They can mitigate the slides by using the explosives to blow it up. They can also use explosives to clear out passage ways. The explosives can clear out passage ways like roads. In conclusion Explosives can promote safety in many of ways.

  • brettb-pla
    1/25/2017 - 11:35 p.m.

    Colorado and Nevada are great places for skiing, and the more snow the better. But sometimes this is not true. So much snow has fallen that avalanches pose a threat to certain parts of the skiing experience.

    It is important that I play my part in getting the word out about the dangers of certain parts of the mountain. I will be in Colorado over the weekend and I will make sure to inform my cohorts of potential ski hazards when I see them.

  • haileylange-dia
    1/26/2017 - 08:52 a.m.

    To create avalanches knowingly so it doesn't happen unexpectedly while someone/people are skiing or snowboarding.

  • ahnad-orv
    1/26/2017 - 11:55 a.m.

    Yes a ski resort can have to much snow. To much snow can lead to avalanches. also to much snow is very hard to ski in so the crews have to do more work.

  • jamariw-orv
    1/26/2017 - 11:55 a.m.

    I think it would make perfect sense for a resort to close because with so much snow people are going to want to come but the roads will be dangerous. So to close it would be safest thing possible in my opinion.

  • tiffanyh-ste
    1/26/2017 - 12:53 p.m.

    I dislike having a lot of snow but I also like having snow so we can go to ski resorts. Last year during winter we had three feet of snow. This year if we got any snow at all it was gone the next day.

  • jeremyj-orv
    1/26/2017 - 01:54 p.m.

    its more safe with less snow because while you are skiing and snowboarding you sink in non packed deep snow.I think there should be a limit on how much snow is acceptable at the parks.

  • hayleel-ste
    1/26/2017 - 02:01 p.m.

    At ski resorts I wouldn't imagine them wanting to cut down the amount snow. However I guess avalanches and things could cause safety problems with the people visiting. Better to keep te people safe then anything.

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