Snowfall totals low in February at Summit County ski areas in “weather whiplash”

As Summit County heads into a warm-weather week, snowfall at area ski resorts remains sparse, reflecting the yearslong drought that’s affecting Colorado’s Western Slope.

All of the county’s ski resorts had significantly less snowfall in February than in recent years. At Breckenridge Ski Resort, 29 inches fell over the course of the month, with over one-third of that coming in the final week of February, according to OpenSnow. Official resort numbers put Breckenridge’s base depth at 50 inches. A year ago, base depth was 48 inches, and February snowfall was 58 inches, double what it was this year.

Copper Mountain Resort’s February snowfall was 23 inches, a considerable drop compared to 2021’s total of 56 inches. However, this year’s base depth currently sits at 52 inches, which is over a foot deeper than 2021’s total of 37 inches. At Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, last month’s snowfall total was 18.25 inches, 37% less than 2021’s end-of-the-month tally. Despite the snowfall decrease, the base depth is actually deeper compared to the same time last year: 48 inches then compared to 56 inches now.

Keystone Resort saw its worst February in the past seven years. Last month, Keystone’s snowfall reached only half of what it had in the same month in 2021. Just over the Continental Divide from Summit County, Loveland Ski Area is seeing a similar trend with its snowfall levels.

The Colorado River District hosted state water experts last week to talk about water year 2022, which runs from October through September. Jeffrey Deems, co-founder and chief technical officer of Airborne Snow Observatories, said that this water year has had a “feast or famine” sequence. Much of Colorado’s Western Slope experienced snowfall in October, immediately followed by a dry spell that lasted until late December. Snow in recent weeks has brought up those levels slightly, but the western part of the state is still below average.

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