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Winter storm headed toward Vail Valley this week

October 7, 2019, 10:15 am
A-Basin snowmaking.

With the first real winter storm of the season taking aim at the Vail Valley and the northern mountains of Colorado in general later this week, time to take stock of snowmaking efforts and look at the opening dates for our local ski resorts.

Keystone, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin have all started making snow at night as temperatures have dipped into the teens and 20s at higher altitudes. Those temps could go as low as zero above 10,000 feet as a storm moves in Wednesday night.

“… A strong storm will arrive on Wednesday night and bring snow through Thursday night,” according to Opensnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz.

“Accumulations in the central and northern mountains should be in the 2-10-inch range, and temperatures could drop to near [0 Fahrenheit] at elevations above 10,000 feet on Thursday and Friday night. After this storm, we’ll see a slow warm-up and I do not know when we’ll have the next chance for snow,” Gratz added.

One of those three ski areas – usually either A-Basin or Loveland – will be the first to open in the state and possibly North American unless a series of southern storms starts slamming Wolf Creek.

That means Eagle County snow riders who just can’t wait will have to travel over Vail Pass to one of the Summit County resorts. Remember, only Keystone is on the Epic Pass this season, so A-Basin will mean a ticket-window purchase unless you also have an Ikon Pass.

Epic Pass-holders will have to wait for Keystone and eventually Breckenridge to jump into the Summit County fray this season, or Vail will open in mid-November if you can wait that long.

New this season, Vail will open on Friday, Nov. 15 with skiing out of Vail Village on Gondola One in addition to the traditional Chair 8 Lionshead opening. That’s due to a dramatically expanded and improved snowmaking system.

On Wednesday, Oct. 2, Vail Mountain officials posted this on Facebook: “It’s #WinterWednesday and we are getting excited to turn our snow guns on!”

No word yet from Vail Resorts on whether that actually happened, or when sustained snowmaking operations might begin in earnest.

Beaver Creek is set to open Wednesday, Nov. 27, with expanded snowmaking in Red Buffalo Park.

Any amount of moisture will be welcome in Eagle County, where the sheriff’s office recently announced Stage 1 fire restrictions due to a prolonged dry spell and high winds.

There have been several small wildland fires that have shut down local roads and spooked area residents in recent weeks.

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