Snowfall helps snowmaking efforts at Colorado ski areas
Ryan Summerlin October 18, 2011
Monday was Loveland Ski Area’s first powder day of the season since the area opened Friday, and though the skies will clear this week, there’s a chance the wet October so far may mean a higher than average snow year to come.
“It was a great way to follow up an opening weekend with 6 inches of fresh snow,” Loveland spokesman John Sellers said, adding that the weekend was warm and felt like spring skiing.
The ski area only has one trail open, but the freshly fallen natural stuff should help open more terrain before the week is out, Sellers said. Not that natural snow has helped snowmaking, but it should cool the ground and create a natural base to which snowmakers can add.
“When it’s snowing, there can be too much moisture in the air,” Sellers said. “But it helps because it hits the ground, cools it and lays a base of snow snowmakers can make snow on.”
On Monday, snow at Loveland Ski Area varied from flurries to practically a white-out, Sellers said. He and National Weather Service forecasters said the system would clear out Monday evening and be mostly clear as of Wednesday or Thursday.
“A stable high pressure system will rebuild over the western United States in the next five days, including Colorado,” National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Fredin said. The long-term forecast shows the possibility of snow on Friday and Saturday, but that’s dependent on the energy from the system moving toward Wyoming, Montana and Canada dipping south.
Precipitation in Breckenridge measured by weather observer Ric Bly amounted to roughly half an inch, which is “a significant amount,” Bly said, adding that the wet days mixed in with “beautiful fall” days has meant October is shaping up to be a wetter-than-average month. He’s recorded .95 inches of precipitation thus far, and estimated that about 1.4 inches is normal.
“If we maintain this, I would predict a snowy winter,” he said. The forecast is based on Bly’s analysis of years of recorded precipitation levels, finding the only pattern is in October, where a wet month has often translated to a wet winter season.