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Colorado snowpack significantly below average

6:48 PM, Dec 30, 2011   |    comments
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"There's been a lot of days when there's [no snow.] We get eight-tenths-of-an-inch or four-tenths-of-an-inch [when] we should be getting 5[more,]" Bly said.

The start of this snow season has brought very little snow to the high country of Colorado - where the statewide snowpack is now around 28 percent below average. In fact, when it comes to snow, most of what's been coming down has been manmade with few real flakes actually falling.

In December, Bly says he's only recorded around 7 inches of snow in Breckenridge - making it the eighth driest December in 120 years.

"This is the eighth driest December in my records that go back to 1893," Bly said.

This all comes just has huge holiday crowds pack lift lines at Colorado ski areas.

At Breckenridge, spokesperson Kristen Steward Pettit says they have put out more slope safety teams and added more slow zones to crowded runs.

"This year, we are really trying to push out the message to play it safe," Pettit said.

Still, they say when it comes to skier safety, the responsibility really comes down to the skier to not go too fast on crowded runs, to give plenty of space around other skiers, to wear a helmet and to be mindful of the limited terrain.

"We want to create a safe environment for our guest, but we also want our guest to understand their role in skier safety," Pettit said.

One of those roles is to not duck a rope into closed terrain, which could result in a skier or snowboarder losing their pass.

As for the snowpack, Bly says for as bad as December has been, it doesn't mean the winter is over. In fact, he found that out of 17 bad snow Decembers, 12 were actually followed by a good snow year.

"Statistically, I think there's a two-out-of-three chance we will have an average rest of the season," Bly said.

That potential snow would certainly help open more skier terrain and cover all those pine needles on Bly's front lawn.

"It's pretty hard to say this is Armageddon upon us. It's just a slow start," Bly said.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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