Ski Season off to a Slow Start

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Hayden Peirce, Reporter

Warm weather plus a serious lack of moisture is not a very promising start to the ski season and it is clear that both skiers and resorts are beginning to worry. On an average year, Arapahoe Basin is open by now. A-Basin has arguably the most favorable conditions for snow of any resort in Colorado, typically opening in mid October and closing in early June. As of right now, they are unable to make snow. A-Basin is not the only resort that is struggling, though. Copper Mountain, Loveland and Aspen are also trying and failing to make snow in the race to be the first to open.

It is not for a lack of trying that there is currently no snow base at any of the ski resorts in the state. Even at the highest elevations, they are high and dry. There are two factors that contribute to the lack of snow, those being the dry weather and most importantly the hot temperatures. If there was no moisture at all in the air, but the temperatures were favorable so that the snow would not melt, there would at least be some progress towards the eighteen inch base that is needed for a resort to open. At this point though, the snow that resorts are trying to make is not sticking around, with temperatures climbing to the upper 60’s during the day in some areas in the high country.

This fact is surprising, considering that this year is expected to be an El Nino year. This is good news for ski resorts, because it means that massive amounts of snowfall are expected. Weather forecasters are not just calling for this to be an average El Nino, which occurs every two to three years. According to some predictions, this year is supposed to be one of the snowiest years yet, comparable to the Blizzard of ’82 (also in an El Nino year.) Typical El Nino years result in long dry spells with occasional very big storms in between. This year very well could be starting with one of those long dry spells, but it seems like a very long one if that is the case.

Whatever the case is, ski resorts are remaining optimistic despite the fact that they are currently unable to begin the process of making snow. If the resorts are not in panic mode yet, skiers should not be either. Forecasts are calling for some much needed moisture and colder temperatures coming in to the high country soon, which will hopefully give resorts the jump they need. At least for now, though, the race to open finds all participants neck-and-neck, having yet to make any noticeable progress.