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Lack of snow helps builders

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – At Lake Tahoe, it only snowed eight inches between Dec. 1 and Presidents’ Weekend. While a bust for ski areas, it’s mostly a boon for construction contractors. “It’s the coldest summer we’ve ever experienced,” said building contractor Curtis McLachlan.

Contractors tell the Tahoe Daily Tribune that little snow saves them time, because they don’t have to spend a half-day after a storm digging out.

But this winter has been both cold and dry, and cold has its own consequences. The lack of snow for insulation has led to many burst water pipes. Further, at 20 degrees and colder, working outside becomes inefficient, says James Costaluipes, a contractor. “You spend more time trying to keep warm than getting work done.”


Presidents’ Weekend full of wind

FRASER, Colo. – The big wind story of Presidents’ Day Weekend of 2007 is likely to be remembered well into the future. It shut down ski lifts from Aspen to Winter Park and on to Steamboat Springs.

The winds also closed many highways, and made those that remained open among the most hazardous in several decades. “Horrendous,” is how Ken Kowynia, a winter sports program manager for the Forest Service, who drove from Crested Butte to Steamboat Springs that day, described the highways north from Fremont Pass, near Copper Mountain.

The gondola and several upper-mountain lifts were closed at Steamboat, where a maximum wind speed of 107 mph was recorded atop Mt. Werner.

The Winter Park-Granby area was among the most severely hit areas. Winds of 40 to 60 mph are not exceptional there, but nobody could recall them being sustained for six hours, as was the case on the Friday going into the weekend.

Ski lifts at Winter Park were necessarily closed down just before noon that Friday, and soon after the highway across Berthoud Pass, the valley’s link to I-70 and Denver, was also closed. Berthoud Pass remained closed mostly until late Saturday afternoon, when winds had calmed and the avalanche chutes, heavily loaded with snow by the wind, had been blasted loose of potential slides.

Highway 40 between Fraser and Granby was so dangerous that it was closed because of the blowing snow. Ironically, only a few inches of snow had fallen.

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