First major storm of winter could bring just enough snow to kick off ski season |

First major storm of winter could bring just enough snow to kick off ski season

Snow coverage at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area on Tuesday, Oct. 8.
Courtesy Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

FRISCO — The first winter storm of the season is upon us with snow forecast to begin Wednesday night and continue Thursday before tapering off Thursday evening, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Bernie Meier.

The storm is expected to drop 3 to 6 inches of snow in the valley and up to 8 inches in the mountains, Meier said.

The National Weather Service reported that the storm will be widespread over Colorado, extending from the mountains down to the Front Range, bringing Denver its first dusting of snow.

“It’s not going to be a huge snowstorm, but it’s the first one of the season,” Meier said.

Meier said it would be very cold in Summit County on Thursday with the high expected to remain below freezing. Friday also will be cold for this time of year with high temperatures in the 30 to 40 degree range. Despite lower temperatures, Meier said the high sun angle means the snow likely won’t last the weekend in the valley.

According to Open Snow, all five local ski areas — Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Copper Mountain Resort, Keystone Resort and Loveland Ski Area — can expect 3 to 7 inches of snow during the day Thursday. A-Basin, Keystone and Loveland also are forecast to get another 1 to 2 inches of snow that evening. Copper and Breckenridge could pick up another inch of snow Thursday night. 

Louis Skowyra, director of lifts and slopes maintenance at A-Basin, said the snowstorm will help by brining cold temperatures to keep snow guns blowing and existing snow from melting as well as natural snow to build the base.

“We want to open with a decent product,” Skowyra said, referring to hesitation to open too early. “We want to get open as soon as possible, of course. We pride ourselves on getting our guests the longest ski season we can.”

In order to open, Skowyra said the ski area will need a few snowcats’ width of snow from the top to the bottom of the High Noon run. In order to open the run, A-Basin typically uses 8 to 10 acre feet of water — the amount it takes to cover an acre with 1 foot of water — a mark they’re already halfway to, Skowyra said.

Skowyra said all ski areas will advertise an 18-inch base when they open, but that it’s the look and feel of a run that helps snowmaking and slopes maintenance teams deem it ready.

Keystone also is getting close to announcing an opening date.

“The overnight temperatures have been great for snowmaking, and we’re excited to see some potential natural snow in the forecast. We’re hoping to open as soon as possible,” Keystone spokeswoman Loryn Roberson wrote in an email.

Over at Loveland, the snow guns have been blowing every night on Catwalk and Mambo trails.

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