Arapahoe Basin Ski Area says water shortage is impacting snowmaking |

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area says water shortage is impacting snowmaking

Loveland Ski Area is a "week or two" away from opening

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area snowmaking is slow-moving due to low streamflow in the North Fork of the Snake River.
Photo from Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

ARAPAHOE BASIN SKI AREA — Despite prime overnight snowmaking temperatures this past week, water supplies are posing a challenge for Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s opening this year.

While the ski area was able to open early last year on Oct. 11, weather has been mostly warm and dry this October, and the drought Summit County is experiencing this year has put a strain on the ski area’s water supplies.

A-Basin Chief Operating Officer Alan Henceroth wrote in his blog Tuesday, Oct. 27, that snowmaking is moving slowly after a dry summer and fall. 

“The higher the streamflow, the more water we have for snowmaking. The lower the streamflow, the less water we have for snowmaking,” Henceroth wrote.

However, Henceroth said the recent snow that brought about 6 inches to the ski area and subsequent sunny days are helping the streamflows.

A-Basin spokesperson Katherine Fuller added that as the fresh snow melts, it will help refill the ski area’s water reservoir. She said reservoir storage fluctuates from year to year and that the ski area opens whenever it can, which is why opening dates might fluctuate from year to year. 

A-Basin relies on the North Fork of the Snake River to fill its snowmaking reservoir.

“Streamflow is low, and we can make less snow. It’s just one of those years,” Fuller said. “We really appreciated all the enthusiasm that everybody had about us, hoping that we were going to (open). If we could be open now, we would be. I think snowmaking is going to really pick up again, and it’s looking much better.”

A-Basin can open with an 18-inch base on the High Noon intermediate trail, and Fuller said the ski area is “getting close.” She added that the opening date has no bearing on the rest of the season and that even if the ski area opens later than usual, it could still be a good snow year. Fuller said the recent snowfall should set up the ski area for success. 

The National Weather Service forecast office in Boulder is calling for overnight lows in the low 20s on Loveland Pass, which could make for suitable snowmaking conditions with low relative humidity.

The National Weather Service forecast for the area does not show any storms or moisture in the 10-day forecast. The next chance for snow is Nov. 8-9, and stormy weather could stick around throughout that week, according to the latest Open Snow blog.

On the other side of Loveland Pass, Loveland Ski Area is reporting “amazing nights of snowmaking,” according to an email from spokesperson Dustin Schaefer.

Schaefer wrote that the ski area is still “a little ways out” from opening but that trail maintenance crews were busy pushing piles of man-made snow across the runs.

“Loveland will not open this weekend, but we hope to open in the next week or two,” Schaefer wrote.

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