Copper Mountain, Keystone resorts call off Halloween opening
October 28, 2014
Copper Mountain Resort followed Keystone Resort with an announcement Tuesday, Oct. 28, that it will postpone its opening day, originally scheduled for Friday, Oct. 31.
Copper will now open Friday, Nov. 7 — the same day that Breckenridge Ski Resort is scheduled to open — with top-to-bottom skiing on the Ptarmigan, Rhapsody and Main Vein intermediate runs as well as the Easy Rider beginner terrain.
Keystone will announce a new opening day as soon as snow conditions permit.
Officials at both Copper and Keystone said warm weather in the last two weeks limited their ability to make snow, and they wanted to provide higher quality snow coverage for the start of the season.
"We're all eager to get in those first turns, but it's a long season and we want to make sure we're providing the best conditions and experience possible from day one," said John Buhler, Keystone vice president and COO.
Keystone turned on its snow guns Monday to complement the natural snow that fell most of the day, said Laura Parquette, Keystone spokeswoman, and the machines were still blowing snow on the River Run, Spring Dipper, Scout and Silver Spoon runs as well as the summit area on Tuesday morning.
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Keystone began snowmaking on Oct. 12, and conditions have allowed the resort to make snow intermittently for a total of about 135 hours, she said.
Those efforts weren't enough to counter above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation in the two weeks before the ski area's original opening day.
"It's been unseasonably warm in general, pretty much statewide," said Eric Thaler, meteorologist with the National Weather Service based in Boulder.
Denver set a high-temperature record on Friday, when an 82-degree high bested the previous record of 80 degrees set in 2011. The next day, Denver tied its high-temperature record of 80 degrees set in 2007.
Summit County has also been warmer than usual for October. According to data from the agency's recording station 1 mile east of Dillon, October has seen an overall average temperature 2.6 degrees above the 30-year average, with several days more than 5 degrees above average.
The highs on Sunday and Monday both were above average, Sunday's by 12.3 degrees, Monday's by 10 degrees, Thaler said.
Natural precipitation also hasn't helped the ski areas.
With just a few days left in the month, the Dillon station has recorded 3.5 inches of snowfall in October compared to the October 30-year average of 6.2 inches.
Looking further into the past, forecaster Joel Gratz, of OpenSnow.com, compared this month with October averages over the last 100 years.
"It's not the driest. It's not the warmest," he said.
About 20 of the last 100 years have seen Octobers as warm or warmer, and this month's precipitation is around 50 to 70 percent of average.
Colder temperatures forecast for Sunday through Tuesday should provide the last push the resorts need before opening, he said.
Gratz called the opening delays unfortunate but rare statistically.
"I don't think this is any reason for a freak-out or jumping up and down," he said. "It is what it is."
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