Ski resorts in southwest Colorado deal with extreme drought

SILVERTON, Colo. -- With southwest Colorado dealing with extreme drought conditions, ski resorts in that part of the state are already looking ahead to next season.

“It’s been a little lean, yeah,” said Greg Ralph with Purgatory Resort. “We’ve been way behind in snowfall. Our winter didn’t start until three weeks, four weeks ago when we started getting some winter weather patterns."

As of now, Purgatory is 100 percent operational. Most ski areas across the state were at 100 percent a couple months ago.

A lack of snowfall in southwest Colorado kept the area dry most of the season.

“We’ve seen with climate change the cycles are getting stronger. When you’re getting snow you could get a lot more. When you’re in the dry periods, it could be a lot drier. You’ve gotta prepare for that,” Ralph said.

In an effort to prepare for any additional future dry seasons, Purgatory is building a new mountain coaster for guests. It will be open year round and debut in May.

“You have to add more activities,” Ralph said. “The [coaster will be] steepest one in the state."

Ralph said this season will be considered one of Purgatory’s top three worst when it comes to a lack of snowfall.

Purgatory has been around for 52 years. It’s situated between Durango and Silverton.