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Aspen skiers doing it on reddish mud

The Aspen Times

ASPEN – Thick dust, whipped up by high winds and probably blown in from Utah, gave parts of the Roaring Fork Valley a red, muddy rain late Monday, and left Aspen-area ski slopes sporting an off-color layer beneath Tuesday’s powder.

The dust-coated snow is not an unusual phenomenon in the springtime. Last year, skiers churned up a brown undercoating with their fresh tracks following a windy, late-March snowfall. The bumps and corduroy remained brown for much of the rest of the season.

Aspen Mountain and Snowmass both picked up 7 inches of new snow overnight, but Beaver Creek and Vail were the big winners as the latest spring storm swept into the mountains of Colorado. Beaver Creek reported 14 inches of new snow Tuesday morning, while Vail had 13 inches.

The mountains surrounding Aspen and Snowmass remain under a winter storm warning, in effect until 6 a.m. Wednesday, though Monday night’s snow had quit by the time the lifts opened Tuesday in Aspen.

The National Weather Service is calling for snow and blowing snow on Tuesday, with accumulations of 5 to 10 inches in Aspen and highs in the 20s. Snow showers and blowing snow are forecast on Tuesday night, with 1 to 3 inches of accumulation and lows of 10 to 20.

Wednesday’s forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies with a 50 percent chance of snow showers and highs in the 30s.

Road conditions in the upper Roaring Fork Valley were slick Tuesday morning. The midvalley saw heavy snowfall during the morning commute and a minor accident involving an Aspen Country Day School van and a pickup truck pulling a trailer reduced traffic to a crawl through Snowmass Canyon. No one was hurt in the mishap, according to authorities.

Elsewhere along Highway 82, snow concealing traffic signals prompted an alert from authorities and a power outtage caused traffic signal difficulties at the Cemetery Lane and Brush Creek Road intersections with the highway.

The avalanche danger in the Aspen zone was rated considerable on many aspects Tuesday morning by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Strong southwest winds have loaded thick slabs onto easterly aspects, according to the CAIC. Danger is moderate on slopes facing west to southwest near and above treeline.


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