Snow and behold
Winter hit the High Country earlier this month with consistent snowfall and cold temperatures since Nov. 1, allowing the resorts to make snow around the clock and get ready for opening day – Friday, Nov. 21, for Vail; and Saturday, Nov. 22, for Beaver Creek.
“It’s great. We’re always happy to get early season snow like this,” Christina Schleicher, spokeswoman for Beaver Creek Resort, said Tuesday.
More than a foot of snow fell Monday night and Tuesday morning at the top of Beaver Creek, with 9 inches at mid-mountain, where more than 30 inches have fallen since Nov. 1, Schleicher said. That’s already almost half the average for November of 65 inches.
Beaver Creek snowmakers, meanwhile, have been making snow for the last 11 days, preparing race courses for the U.S. Ski Team and other national teams, which have begun arriving to begin training and preparation for the Birds of Prey Men’s World Cup Downhill Dec. 6 and 7.
“Our snowmaking crews have been working round the clock, but it’s great to have Mother Nature kick in, too,” Schleicher said, adding the ski racers are scheduled to begin training Thursday. “They’ve been grooming and blowing snow on Centennial and Golden Peak getting ready for them.”
At Vail, more than 2 feet of snow have fallen in the past few days, with 31 inches of the white stuff reported at mid-mountain since Nov. 1. The average snowfall there in November is 58 inches. Snowmaking operations have been under way since Nov. 2, thanks to temperatures in the teens and 20s.
“The weather’s been consistent, allowing us to build a decent base, in combination with snowmaking,” said Vail’s spokeswoman, Jen Brown, that adding crews have been based at Lionshead getting Born Free ready for opening day. “Our hats are off to them for working so hard in getting the slopes ready to go.”
More snow on the way
By Stephen Lloyd Wood
A “very active weather pattern” that delivered recent snows will continue to deliver more of the white stuff to the High Country through early next week, says Joe Ramey, a forecaster in Grand Junction with the National Weather Service.
“We’re having a system that just keeps moving in waves from west to east, tapping some really good moisture on a subtropical flow,” he says.
Today is expected to be mostly sunny and breezy in the Vail Valley, he says, with highs in the 40s. Another wave of snow showers due tonight and early Thursday is expected to bring as much as 6 inches of fresh snow.
Friday and into the weekend, the weather should be mostly cloudy, with highs in the 30s and 40s, before yet another wave of snow showers moves in Sunday evening, Ramey says, adding he expects that system to bring as much as a foot of snow.
“That will be a much better snow-producer for the Central Mountains,” he says.
The last week before opening days at Vail and Beaver Creek offer “a lot of uncertainty,” Ramey says.
“After that warm and dry October, we kind of lost track of what autumn is supposed to be like,” he says. “But November is proving to be much more normal.”