Steamboat Ski Areas and resorts across Colorado hope for colder weather to kick off snowmaking
November 1, 2016
Steamboat Springs — Colorado ski resorts are hoping Mother Nature delivers some cooler weather that will allow them to open on schedule.
Keystone was scheduled to open Friday, but the resort announced Tuesday it was pushing opening day back by a week.
While Arapahoe Basin opened Oct. 21, some Colorado ski resorts have been unable to make sufficient snow because of the warm weather.
“While Mother Nature has not made it easy for recent snowmaking operations, our team is ready to fire up the snow guns at every opportunity as weather gets cooler this week and next,” Keystone CEO Mike Goar said in a news release. "We look forward to opening as soon as we feel we can provide our guests with a better experience and quality snow conditions."
Loveland Ski Area, which typically competes with Arapahoe Basin to open first in Colorado, has not announced when it will open.
Steamboat Ski Area is scheduled to open Nov. 23, and snowmaking typically begins in early November.
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Last year, the ski area started making snow Oct. 28.
In 2015, the ski area received 5 1/2 inches of snow in October. This year, the ski area received 6 inches of snow in October, but it has melted.
In the past 20 years, the ski area on average saw 46.1 inches of snow in November.
Steamboat Ski Area spokesman Loryn Kasten said this is the time of year when the ski area closely monitors long-term weather forecasts.
“When Mother Nature gives us the right temperatures, we’ll kick on the snow guns,” Kasten said.
Until then, ski area employees are getting ready for the season by placing snowmaking equipment, setting up retail shops and restaurants and hiring staff.
“We’re in winter mode for sure,” Kasten said.
Temperatures in Steamboat are scheduled to drop below freezing on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. During the day, high temperatures are expected to be in the high 50s and low 60s.
Kasten said Vice President of Mountain Operations Doug Allen is meeting with snowmakers later this week to get an update.
According to the National Weather Service, the long-range temperature forecast for November is not promising. Forecasters are predicting there is a 70 percent chance that temperatures will be above normal. There is a 33 percent chance that precipitation amounts will be below normal.
“Next week looks mostly dry and continued warm, but I see signs that this warm and dry weather pattern will change during the second half of November,” Joel Gratz wrote on his website opensnow.com.
Sometime between Nov. 15 and 20, Gratz said the forecast calls for a ridge of high pressure to push west, which could allow storms to move into Colorado.
Gratz said after looking at 37 years worth of snow data, he found no correlation between low snowpack in November and the snowpack in December.
“Thus, it's not time to panic just yet,” Gratz wrote. “All we need is a pattern shift and consistent storminess for about two weeks, and we'll have a lot of ski terrain open very quickly.”
Local meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who runs snowalarm.com, said there is a chance for cooler snowmaking weather on Monday, but it looks like it will be warm for the rest of next week.
Weissbluth also thinks the best chance for cooler weather is in the second half of November.