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

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?
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COMMENTS (24)
  • kasha-bla
    1/27/2017 - 11:52 a.m.

    The story I just read was about how resorts in Colorado closed because of too much snow. how is this even possible to have too much snow? In the passage it states "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." I think it was smart to close the resorts because of what that statement says it will be safe for the people to not to get hurt and to keep the people on the roads safe too.

  • travise-bla
    1/27/2017 - 01:06 p.m.

    A ski resort in Colorado is saying that they have to much snow. The ski resort got 10 feet of snow. The ski resort is loosing money because they had to shut it down, but they will make it up in the long run. "We will make the money up in the long run".

  • vmargaret-dav
    1/30/2017 - 08:11 p.m.

    In response to "Can a ski resort have too much snow?" I agree that it is possible for there to be too much snow. One reason I agree is that a lot of sow can go so far as to be considered "too much" when avalanches occur. Another reason I agree is that too much snow on a ski resort's roof can make the roof collapse. It says in the article, "Avalanches pose problems, more so on roads than at the resorts." A third reason I agree is that if it is snowing hard out while you are skiing it can fog up your goggles and can cause injury. Even though some people would like to ski in very snowy conditions, I still think there is such thing as too much snow.

  • fbella-dav
    1/31/2017 - 09:07 p.m.

    In response to "Can a ski resort have too much snow?," I agree that too much snow is not a good thing for a ski resort. One reason I agree is that too much snow can cause ski resorts a lot of extra work to make skiing safe. Ski patrollers will have to use explosives to lessen the chance of an avalanche, and they'll have to close portions of the resort that are at risk. Another reason is that no matter how many precautions you may take, dangerous things may still happen. It says in the article "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, but if you plunk down a 20-story building in a couple of minutes, it's likely to break. 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." A third reason I agree is that too much snow can cause the roads we use, to get to and from the ski resorts, to be unsafe and close. Even though people love to ski in fresh powder, I think too much snow is unsafe and could cause dangerous conditions and even shut down the resort you're trying to get to.

  • jlilly-dav
    2/01/2017 - 10:29 a.m.

    In response to "Can a ski resort have too much snow," I agree that you could have too much snow. One reason I agree is that if snow falls ontop of a person that could sufacate them. Another reason is that if you are skiing then trip over snow you can get hurt. It says in the article "It's like you just go out and get barreled, you drop in and come up, an' pah! Drop back down. Even though having a lot of snow is fun its dangerous.

  • mhailie-dav
    2/01/2017 - 05:26 p.m.

    In response to "Can a ski resort have too much snow?," I agree that they can have too much snow. One reason I agree that its dangerous. Another reason is that it will become unstable soon. It says in the article "But if you plunk down a 20-story building in a couple of minutes, it's likely to break" this is an example what will happen. A third reason is many people won't want to ski anymore. Even though some people may want that much snow, I think its very danergous.

  • amym3-sch
    2/02/2017 - 01:26 p.m.

    1) This article relates to health and happiness because skiing is a hobby to many people and is even a passion.
    Skiers go to all the trouble because they're doing something their heart desires, proven when John mentioned that they have "been skiing my whole life and it's never happened to me". Additionally, skiers don't have to be heavily devoted to skiing. It could be a fun past time, an event to keep a family together, or you just love the snow! As exemplified from the article, resorts with lots of snow get "..people excited to come up and carve powder turns." People can also enjoy the snow because "It's a change from previous years beleaguered by drought" and they can enjoy the good change.
    2) I think a recreational activity couldn't be harmful because when people enjoy doing something, they are devoted and are focused. An example of an activity that people enjoy is people "skiing" their "whole life"

  • ljohn-dav
    2/02/2017 - 04:42 p.m.

    In response to "Can a ski resort have too much snow?," I agree that it is possible for there to be too much snow. One reason I agree is that it could be very dangerous. Another reason is that there could be a avalanche disaster. It says in the article, "But if you plunk down a 20-story building in a couple of minutes, it's likely to break." A third reason is that a lot of snow could fall into and off a building, it fall and if there is a lot of snow then people couldn't get out of the building fast enough. Even though a lot of snow could be fun for skiers, I think it be very dangerous.

  • madilyn-dav
    2/02/2017 - 05:07 p.m.

    In response to "Can A Ski Resort Have Too Much Snow?," I agree that it's good for the ski resorts to get a lot of extra snow. One reason I agree is that for the past 30 years, ski resorts have been getting too little snow. A big snow would be good for the resorts. Another reason is that new snow will encourage tourists to come because of all of the fresh snow. It says in the article that "The resorts will promote the fresh snow and get more people excited to come up and carve powder turns." A third reason that snow is good is because the big amount of snow doesn't really even affect the ski resorts. It only really affects the roads that lead to the resorts. Even though a lot of snow might make the ski resorts close at first, I think that in the long run, it will be good business for the resorts and will make people want to go skiing.

  • sayida-dav
    2/02/2017 - 05:45 p.m.

    In response to "Can a ski resort have too much snow?," I agree that it's bad for the ski resort to have too much snow. One reason I agree is that there are many avalanches to envelope passing skiers. Another reason is that it can make driving on roads dangerous because it'll be shrouded in snow. It says in the article, "Avalanches pose problems, more so on roads than at the resorts. Ski patrollers use explosives to mitigate slides every day." Even though some people think that more snow equals more fun, I think that it is still highly dangerous.

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