Snowmaking kicks off in Summit
SUMMIT COUNTY – Cold temperatures allowed two local ski areas to fire up snowmaking guns Wednesday morning and blow snow for a few hours onto the slopes. Arapahoe Basin worked snow guns from midmountain to the base area, adding to natural snowfall that started with a storm system that arrived in the area Monday and gained strength Tuesday.A-Basin got a jump on competitor Loveland Ski Area to be first to open for the ski season. Loveland did not use its snowmaking guns Wednesday, but plans to start them in earnest Friday, said ski area spokesman Kevin Wright. A-Basin is aiming to open Oct. 22.
Copper Mountain also produced snow Wednesday for about two hours beginning at 8:30 a.m. Copper is not actively competing to be first to open this season but makes snow to serve international ski race teams that train on the upper half of the resort during early-season. Copper is looking to open by Nov. 5.”I’m standing waist deep in snow right now,” said Copper Mountain maintenance technician Paul Bedard from a cellular phone Wednesday afternoon, who admitted to a bit of exaggeration as he stood directly under a snow gun he was servicing. The team at Copper made enough snow Wednesday to cover a 100-foot by 40-foot swath of ground in six to eight inches of snow, Bedard said.
This time of year, snowmaking crews around the county watch the weather closely for the perfect mixture of temperature and humidity to make snow. Temperatures generally need to be below 30 degrees and crews wait for a “wet bulb” of 28 degrees. Wet bulb is a combination of temperature and humidity. “One thing we want to do is run efficiently,” Bedard said. “We wait until 28 – that’s the most efficient place to run. That’s the key and then everyone goes to work.” While Wednesday’s snowmaking action was more of a test run than a real push to cover ground, Bedard said the snow would not melt before the crew added to it in the near future. “The advanced forecast is looking very good,” he said, predicting the guns would fire in earnest sometime this weekend.
Keystone Resort plans to begin snowmaking Oct. 18 and to open Nov. 12. “We’re going to be ready to start earlier than that if there’s opportunity for productive snowmaking,” said spokeswoman Lisha Burnett. Breckenridge Ski Resort also aims to open Nov. 12. Kim Marquis can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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