Ear to the ground

 “All right! Only three more weeks, and I can start getting fat again.”

-A local bride-to-be on her immediate post wedding plans

El Niño visits Durango

Old Man Winter came knocking this week. Sub-freezing temperatures hit Durango, snow dusted area peaks and a familiar presence known as El Niño started taking shape off the coast of Mexico.

El Niño, the extreme warming of equatorial waters in the Pacific Ocean, has officially formed and will last into 2007, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The weather pattern has been known for creating chaotic world weather conditions but is usually a boon for Southwest Colorado in terms of total winter snow.

The NOAA said El Niño is currently relatively weak but could strengthen. The weather pattern is associated with a strong southwest flow and increased moisture for the southern Rockies. The “little boy” seems to show up every three years, and according to some sources is already smiling on Colorado ski areas.

Colorado Ski Country USA reported up to half a foot of fresh snow in some places last weekend. “If this is any indication of what’s to come, we are in for yet another fantastic Colorado winter season with plenty of powder,” said Rob Perlman, president & CEO of the group. More than 6 inches of snow hit Steamboat Springs and Beaver Creek on Saturday morning. Four inches fell at Wolf Creek and Aspen received 2 inches of snow over the weekend. As Blue & Brews goers will attest, Telluride also felt the shock of winter and received a dusting of snow. Meanwhile, Loveland Ski Area is shooting for opening day honors this year and planning to have the lifts running by mid-October.  

Utah’s leading draw

The State of Utah has announced its top attraction. Arches National Park? The Great Salt Lake? Snowbird and Alta? Guess again.

In its first year of operation, the Cabela’s retail store in Lehi is close to surpassing the LDS Church’s Temple Square as Utah’s most visited location. Cabela’s pulled nearly 5 million visitors since opening late last August. Visitation to the store is on par with Temple Square and surpassing the total number of visitors to all of southern Utah’s five national parks.

Among the super-store’s draws is a 45,000-gallon aquarium stocked with local species of fish. The store’s centerpiece is the 30-foot “Conservation Mountain,” a recreation of a mountain ecosystem complete with life-sized animals. The store also features a gun museum, an archery shooting range and the “Bargain Cave,” a haven for the discount shopper.