The first big storm of the season continues dropping south toward us, from northern Canada. Winter weather advisories are expected to take effect across much of the high country tonight. Early guesstimates as to how much snow we should have on the ground by sunset tomorrow vary, from 2 to 4 inches at Glenwood Springs, to at least 5 to 11 a few thousand feet higher at Aspen. The downvalley weather advisory runs from midnight tonight until 6 pm tomorrow, while the upvalley higher-altitude version begins at 9 this evening, running ‘til midnight Thursday. Looks like the Sunlight Mountain Resort near Glenwood picked the right day, tomorrow, to open its skiing and riding season, after all, following a postponement of a couple weeks from the original plan, early this month. The forecasts generally say after the snow lets up a bit Friday, there’ll be another burst of precipitation into the weekend, as well. More details coming up in Meteorologist Don Day’s complete extended forecast, in just a few moments here on The Mammoth.
A new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the organization “Protect Our Winters” says the snow that’s on the way could avert huge financial losses that might’ve cropped up if the unusual jetstream flow and dry conditions had continued. It shows what so many locals already know, that snow or the lack of it can have huge impacts on pretty much every kind of business in a resort community, like all those around here. The study shows that any low-snow year across the Colorado high country can drop skier and rider visits as much as 8 percent, and that can translate to collective losses of more than $150 million. The study also tracks global warming, and shows that if current resorts can’t be open a certain number of days each season, there might not be any resorts, or skiing and riding at all, in just the next few decades.
They’ve been working at this for a while in Aspen, but now even Pitkin County admits it’s time to attack that big boulder atop the Ute Trail from the air. The county’s brought in a helicopter you might’ve noticed above the town Tuesday, in the effort to haul away instead of just trying to “stabilize” Ute Rock, according to the Aspen Times. The boulder was split by a lightning strike last summer, and has been precariously perched ever since. Homeowners and the town have expressed concern about fragments or the whole rock rolling down the hill, damaging houses and maybe hurting or killing someone. So although it’s costing the county some $125,000 to employ the aircraft, it should be worthwhile to eliminate that potential danger. All kinds of equipment was dropped off at the site by the copter Tuesday. Rockfall fences are expected to go up today, after which workers will start breaking Ute Rock into some smaller, more “manageable” pieces. Those portions are expected to be moved to areas even farther uphill, to what are being called “secure” areas to prevent that tumbling danger.
Brolin McConnell of Colorado Springs, who’s been in the Pitkin County Jail ever since allegedly holding 3 men hostage at gunpoint on Independence Pass in the summer of 2016, has been allowed to change his plea. It’s been switched from not guilty, which would’ve had him standing trial on 25 counts including multiple kidnapping and attempted murder charges, to not guilty by reason of insanity. The 31-year-old will now be sent to the state hospital in Pueblo for a full mental evaluation. After that, he’ll probably also be checked out by psychiatrists the prosecution selects.
Basalt’s reportedly pushing back against that group calling itself the “Roaring Fork Community Development Corporation,” which has recently threatened to sue the town over Basalt not moving to buy those 2.3 controversial acres that used to be part of a mobile home park from it. The Aspen Daily News reports the town’s attorney has sent a letter to the group’s lawyer, saying Basalt will in these words “not be driven by the threat of a lawsuit” over the acreage. The town’s letter also claims the one it got from the development group earlier this month has several factual errors in it. The group appears to be claiming it bought that chunk of land on the condition the town would buy it from them within a certain time, so the group could get its money back. Basalt hasn’t done that yet, and voters told the town not to spend taxpayer dollars on the purchase last year. Town council’s tried to find a way to ignore that vote and buy the property anyway, but the development group seems to many to be tired of waiting. You can read all the details, and there are a lot of them, in John Fayhee’s complete story at aspen daily news dot com.