The storm that has Denver in the grip of rain and gloomy skies hasn’t accounted for big accumulations of snow in the mountains, but it has been snowing up there and the forecast is for more through the week.
Perhaps more importantly for eager skiers and snowboarders, temperatures are expected to be cold through the week at Loveland ski area and Arapahoe Basin, making for good snowmaking conditions.
Arapahoe Basin has been making snow on and off since Sept. 21. Loveland, which had received 3 inches of snow as of mid-morning Monday, turned on the snow guns for the first time at 1 a.m. Monday.
“They’re still going now,” said Loveland spokesman John Sellers. “There is snow and cold temperatures in the forecast for the rest of the week, so we’re optimistic that we will be able to continue unimpeded for quite some time.”
Arapahoe Basin spokeswoman Leigh Hierholzer, who lives in Golden, said she encountered wintry weather en route to work this morning when she hit the Bakerville exit on Interstate 70, 5 miles east of the Loveland Pass exit.
“Over Loveland Pass there was some ice and snow, so I had to turn on my four-wheel drive,” Hierholzer said, adding that the ski area received a “dusting” of 1 or 2 inches.
The biggest snowfall in the Front Range appeared to be around Hoosier Pass, between Breckenridge and Fairplay.
“It looks like we got around four, maybe six inches in that area,” said Dave Barjenbruck of the National Weather Service in Boulder. “Outside of that, it looks like an inch or two in some of the higher foothill areas, around Conifer and Central City, the higher ridge lines got an inch or two of snow. I think there’s been a few places in southwest Colorado, the high peaks, that got good snow.”
Barjenbruck said we should see unsettled weather for the rest of the week, which is welcome news for snowmakers at Loveland and Arapahoe Basin in their annual race to open first.
“We have this storm moving through right now, mostly gets out of our area by this evening,” Barjenbruck said. “Behind that, we’ll still see a few showers (Tuesday). It looks like a little bigger for Wednesday, might see a couple to three inches on some of the higher mountains, mostly favoring the northern border (with Wyoming) area. Then it looks like we still have one more storm to deal with, and that might be our best chance for more accumulating snow. That would be moving in Thursday and Thursday night into Friday, for the high country. Down here on the plains we’ll probably see some rain, possibly mixed with snow showers.”
Once snowmaking operations begin, it typically takes Loveland two weeks to get a trail open. When the time comes, Loveland will inaugurate its first high-speed detachable quad chair.
“Opening day is going to be even a little more exciting (than usual),” Sellers said. “We just completed the load test on Friday, so she’s just about ready to go. She’s ready and waiting for opening day, like the rest of us.”