Ski country experiencing snow amid extreme drought

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A ski patroller died in an explosion while taking part in avalanche control duties at a Tahoe resort Tuesday morning. Joe Zuiches, 42, had been working before Squaw Valley resort’s opening hours and was killed after the detonation of an explosive charge, according to the company, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.

HOUSTON (CW39) Meteorologist Star Harvey from our sister station in Grand Junction, Colorado joins us with a look at conditions there where they have a severe drought.

As of now, the western slope does continue in that exceptional level of drought. They did have a storm system affected the San Juan Mountains there. But nothing has really changed over the last couple of days.

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They did have a break that occurred between the western slope and the front range areas like Denver and Fort Collins. That area did see a less than 1% drop in to that extreme level of drought, so from a D4 down to a D3 they do have lighter effected areas continuing to the San Juan Mountains.

They do have a storm system that is expected to push in there and expected to arrive as early as tomorrow. The cold front is going to push through with a 60% chance of some showers. That’s a half inch of precipitation into those valley floors. As much as 2-5 inches of some snow into those higher elevations.

That’s not not going to stick around for long however. That’s because an upper level ridge is expected to move into the region as well. It’s going to give carry dry conditions through the end of the week. They need any moisture they can get.

Also, of course the ski industry is such a vital part of Colorado. Especially this time of year! As for ski total for are resorts, which are slow due to the pandemic. COVID-19 plays a role in a little bit of a lack of tourism and is definitely impacting area ski resorts. A lot of the resorts are operating at about a 50% capacity.

If you’re looking to ski over the Christmas holidays, many lodges are closed. CDC protocol is in place with 6 feet social distancing is still in place. They are also requiring reservations be made 24 hours in advance. Skiers are actually making those reservations. They can also expect to receive some of that snow on Thursday and Friday, in hopes that is could mean more business for area ski resorts.

As for totals over the next couple of days, just about quarter of an inch is expected. Higher elevations are expecting anywhere from 2.7 inches down in Gunnison and areas like Glenn what spring expected to receive about 4.5 inches. As for ski resorts, Vail is one of the closest resorts and received 5 inched. About 5 inches for Telluride. Steamboat Springs, 6 inches. That is one of their most popular. Aspen received 8 inches of snow.

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