Excessive Snow Prevents Planned Opening of South American Ski Resorts

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Image: Las Lenas Ski Resort

It seems there really can be too much of a good thing.

A number of South American ski resorts which had opened for preview weekends early due to good early snow amounts have now been forced to delay their “official” planned opening dates for the same reason, early, sustained, heavy snow.

Powder.com and SnowBrains are both reporting that popular resorts in Argentina and Chile, which had earlier in June been promoting early openings as a result of having received good snow amounts early in the spring, have now had to delay opening for full winter operations as heavy snow has continued to fall, making roads to the resorts impassable and avalanche danger high.

“PowderQuest, a guiding company that operates in South America, among other locales, reported yesterday that Ski Portillo, Chile, and Las Leñas, Argentina, had both delayed their official opening dates due to excessive snowfall causing road closures and high avalanche danger,” Powder.com writes. “Thanks to the snowfall earlier this month, Portillo opened earlier than usual, offering skiing and riding on a weekends-only basis throughout June. They managed to open June 1st and June 2nd with stellar conditions, but the back-to-back storms prevented the rest of the pre-season dates.

“‘It’s close to the best start we have ever seen in our 25 years guiding here,’” PowderQuest’s founder, David Owen told Powder.com. “‘With today’s storm rolling in and the forecasted amounts of three to six feet, I’m pretty sure this will be breaking records for June at many ski areas in Chile and Argentina’”

“After record-breaking amounts of snowfall in South America during May, two resorts delayed their official opening days,” SnowBrains reports. “The Argentinian resort Las Leñas [where 19 feet of snow has already fallen in the spring] delayed its official opening day from June 20 to June 29.

“The Chilean resort Ski Portillo postponed its opening day from June 22 to June 26 after it received a staggering 13 feet of snow before the season even started (the seasonal average is around 16 feet of snowfall). The resort isn’t open because an access road is closed,” SnowBrains continued.

Weather forecasters say as much as five feet more snow could fall across the affected areas in the from June 20-24.

The heavy snow affected different South American ski areas differently. Some ski areas that opened early have remained so, with the heavy snow expected to extend the ski season at South American ski resorts.

“South America’s biggest ski resort, Catedral Alta Patagonia in Argentina, opened on May 9. Valle Nevado and La Parva, two of the biggest ski resorts in Chile, are also open,” SnowBrains says. “The resorts reported around 15 inches of snowfall in the last 24 hours.

“Usually, the ski season in South America lasts from June to September, but because of the large amounts of snowfall, this season is expected to last until mid to late October,” reports SnowBrains.

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