Storms allow Colorado ski resorts to open

More snow is in the forecast for the Colorado high country, and along with it, more openings of various ski slopes around the state.

Thanks to last week’s storm, five ski resorts — Eldora, Loveland, Steamboat, Winter Park and Purgatory — have opened, with four more set to do so today: Aspen, Crested Butte, Snowmass and Wolf Creek. Arapahoe Basin and Cooper Mountain have already opened.

More locally, Howelsen Hill near Steamboat is to open on Friday, Telluride Ski Resort is planning to do so on Dec. 2 and Powderhorn Mountain Resort is to follow on Dec. 15, according to Colorado Ski Country USA.

Still, those resorts only have one or two runs open and, at least as of Wednesday, only had anywhere from 11- to 18-inch bases, according to Ski Country’s 24-hour snow report.

Forecasters with the Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service said the timing of those openings is good, considering the snow that fell in the high country last night and this morning, which could leave up to 5 inches in elevations of 7,000 feet and higher.

But the better news for skiers is coming this weekend, when the northern part of the state could see even more snow.

“After Thanksgiving Day, conditions are going to dry out through Saturday, when things will be sunny and seasonable,” general forecaster Julie Malingowski said. “But the next chance for snowfall in the mountains and anywhere else for that matter will be Sunday. We don’t know an amount yet, but there’s a pretty good chance much of western Colorado will see snow.”

Malingowski said that storm is more substantial than the one passing through the region today, and has the potential to dump up to a foot of snow. She said the bulk of it should be in the Steamboat-Aspen corridor.

The storm isn’t expected to add much to Grand Mesa, though, which so far has received 10 to 20 inches of snow.

“If folks are traveling on Sunday, I would encourage them to call 511 or take a look at CDOT’s road conditions,” she said, referring to the Colorado Department of Transportation road cameras, which can be see at http://www.cotrip.org. “Definitely be prepared for winter driving.”

She said light snow may continue through the early part of next week, but it’s too early to know for sure or how much.

Malingowski said the region hasn’t seen much snow until recently because of a La Nina weather pattern, which often creates dry conditions.

Historically, such patterns cause drier conditions in the southwest corner of the state, leaving storms coming in from the north and northwest primarily impacting the northern mountains.

“Typically in a La Nina year, we tend to see a dry fall like we saw this year, so that’s actually a pretty common pattern,” she said. “Long-range outlook, the major correlation in western Colorado in La Nina years precipitation-wise is the Four Corners tends to be drier than normal, and the temperatures tend to be above average.”


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