SnoCast: More Snow Targets the West

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This week, the weather pattern continues to favor the Western U.S. for new snow and the right conditions to kick start ski season. In this week’s SnoCast, we’ll detail where back-to-back storms will deliver fresh snow.

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What's New As Brian Head, Winter Park, Wolf Creek, Loveland Open

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Early-season snowfall, especially along the southern tier of the Rockies, has coupled with snowmaking temperatures to get a quartet of high-country ski and snowboard mountains to start spinning their lifts.

Utah's southernmost resort Brian Head kicked off the Beehive State's winter season the first weekend in November. For its second-earliest opening on record, the resort's upgraded Navajo Express -- more four-seat chairs on the cable -- handles the load for the first couple of weekends before daily operations begin on Nov. 18.

Snowmaking got a production upgrade this summer, as owners Mountain Capital Partners (MCP) continue to put money into its latest acquisition. Kids 12 and under ski and ride for free, all the time and at all eight MCP resorts, with the Kids Power Pass.

In southern Colorado, powder-king Wolf Creek wants its folks to move more easier around its 1,600 acres. To do so, the day-trip resort has installed RFID gates at six of its 10 lifts so that tickets can be read in the skier's parka pocket.

The Alberta chair has long been the best way to get to Wolf Creek's most prolific powder stashes, but it took a couple of lift rides to get to. This season, there's a traverse from the lower parking lot to the Alberta chair base with an RFID printer so that skiers and riders can set up for a powder day without going to the main ticket office or riding another chair.

Northward, Winter Park moved up its opening date to Oct. 31 -- its earliest opening ever. Experts and powderhounds will be happy as mountain managers have opened two areas of steeps. At the far end of the Vasquez Cirque, a section known as "Jelly Roll" for its rolly-polly terrain is now accessible. And, over on Mary Jane far side, more room for steep-and-deep as avalanche-controlled chutes on "Powder Field" will increase access between Trestle and double-diamond The Chutes.

And farther up the Continental Divide, Loveland loyalists began skiing and riding on Nov. 4, and will soon hop on an expanded Chair 6 to get more quickly into the blues, greens and terrain parks on the south flank of the 1,800-acre mountain.

 

 

 

 

 

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SnoCast: Tricks and Treats in the Forecast

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The weather won't be too scary this Halloween weekend. Tricky weather for the East, while the West eagerly awaits it's next fluffy, white treat. Let's dive into this week's SnoCast forecast. 

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Arapahoe Basin Wins Race To Open First

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Cooler nighttime temperatures has led to aggressive snowmaking at Arapahoe Basin, so much so that the high-altitude Colorado mountain loaded its first skiers and snowboarders on Sunday, Oct. 23.

Eager skiers and riders get to head up on high-speed chairlift, the Black Mountain Express, and make the first turns of the season on blue-rated High Noon on the lower half of the mountain.

"The time has come," said A-Basin chief Alan Henceroth. "The snowmakers and 'cat drivers have done a tremendous job, and the forecast for the coming week looks outstanding."

Last year's early-opening winner, Wolf Creek, is expected to get a double-digit dump out of this storm. The mountain perched on the Continental Divide is on track to open as scheduled on Oct. 29.

Indeed, warm fall weather is predicted to turn dramatically in the coming weeks all over the West. Forecasting service OpenSnow saying that mountains in Utah should begin to fill up, with Alta and Snowbird with more than a foot. Southern Colorado should get significant snowfalls on the first weekend of the season, but most will wait to open until November.

In the week following, OpenSnow predicts small but steady buildup at most mountains in the West. Expect Loveland and Keystone in Colorado to begin spinning lifts for the 2022-2023 season before the end of October.

However, the ski-focused forecaster indicates that snowfall will cease toward the end of the month, so skiers and 'boarders shouldn't look for many slopes to open before announced dates.

Depending upon location, night temperatures should stay cold enough for snow guns to shoot a base onto their slopes and trails. But mountain managers note that day temperatures can't rise too much without melting some of the overnight coverage.

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SnoCast Returns For the 2022-23 Winter Season

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Another winter season is nearly here, and that means we're gearing up for another season of SnoCast. This weekly weather blog takes a deep-dive into the forecast, seeking areas of great ski and ride weather from coast to coast. 

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West's Resorts Begin To Fire Up Snow Guns For Opening Day

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With opening dates on the horizon, crews at many resorts in the West have been testing snow guns -- and looking longingly to the skies -- in hopes of putting down a base of snow in October.

Most ski and snowboard resorts have announced their anticipated opening days, although persistent warm weather in some regions may have something to say about that. A frequent check of resort websites is recommended.

However, hints of winter whiff the air and the high-country leaves are turning, so it's time to haul skis and snowboards out of storage and get them ready for the season.

The informal race to be the first to open in the nation falls upon the highest-elevation mountains along the spine of the Colorado Rockies. Traditionally, it's been Arapahoe Basin, Keystone and Loveland that vie for the title, but Wolf Creek surreptitiously snuck in last season by firing up its chairlifts on Oct. 16.

This year -- if official dates are to be believed -- Keystone will lead the pack by opening on Oct. 21, followed by Arapahoe Basin on Oct. 22, and Loveland and Wolf Creek on Oct. 29.

In California, 7,700-foot-high Boreal on Donner Pass is optimistic to begin on Oct. 28, while Mammoth Mountain plans to be in second place with an Nov. 11 opening. Tahoe's Heavenly has penciled in Nov. 18 for its first chairs.

Despite having middle-of-the-pack summit elevation, Lookout Pass (5,650 feet) on the border of Idaho and Montana has pushed its first day all the way up to Nov. 6 -- a full two weeks ahead of its previous earliest opening. Schweitzer, Sun Valley and Tamarack all plan to follow later in the month.

A pair of Utah mountains -- Brian Head and Park City Mountain -- hope to be the first in the Beehive State with openings on Nov. 18.

Skiers and riders in Washington will have to wait until December for Stevens Pass (Dec. 2) and 49 Degrees North (Dec. 3), while Oregonians will have to bide their time until Mt. Hood Meadows and Timberline (Dec. 11). Mt. Bachelor expects to follow close behind on Dec. 12.

In New Mexico, Sipapu has had a lock on first-to-open in recent seasons. For 2022-2023, the family resort tucked into the Sangre de Cristos has tabbed Nov. 18 to begin spinning its lifts.

 

 

 

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Colorado’s Independent Ski Areas Thriving In Shadow Of dueling, Consolidating Resort Giants

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In the shadow of battling behemoths, smaller, independent ski areas are thriving.  Arapahoe Basin, Echo Mountain, Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn, Ski Granby, Silverton Mountain and Wolf Creek all report record visits, and revenues in the last two seasons.

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Late Snow, Early Snowmaking Prompt Slew Of Season Extensions

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Used to be that the first week of April was the traditional time to hang up the skis, store away the boots, and dust off the summer recreation equipment. Not so much nowadays.

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SnoCast: Big Storm for the East; Waves of Snow Out West

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According to Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast, we should be ending our six-week stretch of remaining winter, but Mother Nature has other plans with ample snow and cold in the cards. Here’s what to expect in this week’s SnoCast.

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SnoCast: A Fickle Finish to February

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Following big snow in the Southwest and Four Corners, a storm will work across the country and deliver fresh snow to many Northeast ski areas to finish the week. With new powder all around, let’s dig into this week’s SnoCast forecast.

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SnoCast: Bursts of Snow and Wintry Chills

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In this week's SnoCast, we'll see bursts of snow for the Rockies, the Midwest, and Northeast ski areas. And with late-January chilly temperatures on tap, bundle up and hit the slopes during this fairly quiet stretch.

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A Pair Of Old-Time Storm-Catchers Beckon From Continental Divide

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It's no coincidence that the Continental Divide is home to a collection of some of the oldest ski areas in the nation as it winds its way through the middle of Colorado.

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Proposed Wolf Creek Village May Finally Be Put To Rest

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The decades-long plan to put a large resort village near the base of Wolf Creek Ski Area appears to be dead after a recent U.S. District Court ruling.

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SnoCast: New Snow from Coast to Coast

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This week brought more wild swings in the weather country-wide. The West has benefited greatly with building snow cover, and the East eyes the next weekend wintry wallop. Here’s the forecast in this week’s SnoCast.

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Waiting For The Snow: Weather Expected To Turn Favorable For Resort Openings

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The 2021-22 ski and snowboard season has gotten off to a rocky start, with only the highest-elevation slopes open and all others waiting impatiently for more snowfall and colder temps.

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SnoCast: A Stormy Western Pattern; Mild Conditions in the East

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 A series of storms will target the West this week with some of the heaviest snow yet of the season in the Sierras, while the East continues to bask in mild temperature. Here are the details in this week’s SnoCast.

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First To Open? Wolf Creek In An Upset

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The race to be the first to drop the ropes on the 2021-22 season has a new winner this season, as the "friendly" cloak-and-dagger competition reached new heights.

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#racetopopen Colorado 2021-22 Ski Resorts Announce Opening Dates

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The Colorado ski and snowboard season usually gets underway in October with the #racetoopen kicking off between Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Wolf Creek and Keystone.

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Powder Days All Around! Massive Storms Roll Across The West

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In the waning days of January, Mother Nature got to work -- dropping her glorious bounty upon the mountains of the West, and finally giving skiers and snowboarders the deep powder they've been waiting for.

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Southwest Colorado Ski Resorts Navigate Tricky World of COVID-19 Protocols

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Skiers are hitting the slopes in Southwest Colorado, looking for some exercise and a short escape from the whirlwind of the COVID-19 pandemic and polarized politics, but even so, a sense of normalcy is hard to come by these days.

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