2019-20 Race to Open

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
I've done my first review of snow totals.

The Front Range October totals of 48 inches at Breckenridge, 36 at Copper, 44 at Keystone, 40 at Loveland and 44 at Steamboat are impressive. Whether that translates into high amounts of early season terrain open remains to be seen. Al's Blog today reflects that reality:
Al's Blog":33h4crzt said:
OK, the million dollar question, when does Lenawee open? The snowmakers are doing a fine job. If you are a seasoned A-Basin follower you know that our water for snowmaking is somewhat limited. The snowmakers are matching inflow to our reservoir with output from our fan guns. We are using every drop of water available to us. The snowmakers are strategically dropping some snow in the final key spots to get things open up there. So close.
I'd say the water capacity is very limited if it's taking this long to get a third trail open at A-Basin with October weather about as favorable as it can get for both snowfall and temperatures. I'm guessing Loveland doesn't have much water either. It will be interesting to see what the big areas in Summit County do in November. Does EMSC have any idea how much water they have?

No signs of life on Brighton or Solitude websites today. Only Snowbasin reports 20 inches season snowfall and a 11 inch base. The Snowbird SNOTEL (not run by the ski area) reports an 18 inch base on about 30 inches snowfall.
 

EMSC

Active member
Tony Crocker":293jjypw said:
Does EMSC have any idea how much water they have?

Not in detail. I do know that Loveland has much more access to water than Abasin does. Abasin actually pulls water from the Snake River (no not that snake river) down by Keystone. They are required to leave specified minimum stream flows, so ironically Abasin would be able to blow snow much more quickly if it had been warm during the day to melt the recent snows (at least on South faces) so that stream flows would increase. Their ideal is warm days and cold nights with some snowfall that melts into the creeks.

Most of the other central Colo ski areas have decent sized snowmaking reservoirs that they replenish over the spring and summer months which allows for continuous snowmaking operations.

I've been interested to see if you will count any of the October snows toward season totals given the large Oct this year. Ironically, it's probably not enough to open trails on it just yet (40" packs down too much out here); But if we could find a way to get another 20-30" that would be enough to open a fair bit of greens and blues on natural snowpack.

I do have detail on Eldora's water rights and I'll create a separate post on that at some point because it illustrates how complicated water rights are in the western US. It's not obvious or simple at all and every ski resort is quite different in what they have access to.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
EMSC":gf2drk58 said:
I've been interested to see if you will count any of the October snows toward season totals given the large Oct this year.
Percent of open terrain at Thanksgiving is good indicator of whether that October snowfall is relevant. The best evidence would be ski areas advancing their opening dates, as Lake Louise did by opening today with 23 inches snowfall plus snowmaking. Lake Louise probably has big league snowmaking because it hosts an early season World Cup Downhill.

I'm not seeing expansion at Loveland or Keystone with this extra natural snow and better snowmaking than A-Basin.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
Wolf Creek is similarly open today on 22 inches snowfall and an 11 inch base. That's standard operating procedure for Wolf Creek to open fast in very low tide coverage, but perhaps new for Monarch. The Gothic Snow Lab has had 21 inches also, so Aspen is probably similar. The Front Range areas have had more, several of them over 40 inches.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
onthesnow.com collects automated data from the resorts, usually starting when they open. The display is in daily calendar format. Example here of A-Basin

These are useful for seeing incidence of recent snow, but less so for season totals. I have seen examples of missed days and double counted days. In-season I only use running totals from ski area websites. I may occasionally use onthesnow.com to check unusual data.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
I updated http://bestsnow.net/seas20.htm today and it's quite ugly. The first half of November has been bone dry in the western US, with no area receiving more than 3 inches snow and most getting zero. Front Range Colorado is now no better than average and other US regions are far worse. The only places with reasonable November snow were Revelstoke/Kicking Horse and Banff/Lake Louise.

It's been more promising in the Northeast. Jay is not open but it's had 34 inches snow in November. Plus it's been cold for snowmaking.
 

tseeb

Active member
Alta has pushed back planned opening from Nov 23 to Nov 29 according to sNoBrains. Not a good sign.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
tseeb":3pepmdgs said:
Alta has pushed back planned opening from Nov 23 to Nov 29 according to sNoBrains. Not a good sign.
So will admin whine when I exclude Alta's 40 inches of October snow from season totals later?
 

snowave

Member
things are starting to look more promising for a change in the pattern to a stormy west around the end of the month.

Wolf Creek looks to get hit this week with up to 2 ft +.
 

EMSC

Active member
Interestingly, Aspen & Snowmass pulled in their opening dates by 5 days (to Nov 23). Granted not a ton will be open there, but still points out that Colo has had it pretty much the best in the western US this fall.

Steady if slow increases in terrain opening and a big chunk of the Oct snowfalls have mostly stuck around in Colo (esp N facing) which I think will still get things open sooner once the snow does start to fall again. Only time will tell with first storm coming up shortly...
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
EMSC":92cojfqa said:
Steady if slow increases in terrain opening and a big chunk of the Oct snowfalls have mostly stuck around in Colo (esp N facing) which I think will still get things open sooner once the snow does start to fall again.
I decided to go for OpenSnow's All Access this season. Joel has an automated comparison of snowpack at SNOTELs nearest to ski areas vs. long term average. A-Basin is exactly on that average now, which is what I would expect with 40 inches in October and zero since then.

EMSC":92cojfqa said:
Interestingly, Aspen & Snowmass pulled in their opening dates by 5 days (to Nov 23).
The Gothic Snow Lab ~25 air miles south had only 20 inches in October and no base remains from that, so those openings will be strictly manmade WRODs.

EMSC":92cojfqa said:
Colo has had it pretty much the best in the western US this fall.
No question about that, but it's less a case of Colorado being good and more a case about how dry it has been everywhere else.

By this weekend Wolf Creek should be the standout in the western US.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
EMSC":n9ipwbwn said:
Marc_C":n9ipwbwn said:
Man, if y'all only put this much effort into the stock and bond markets!

I don't recall saying that I didn't...
Me neither. I did retire at age 58. More time for actual skiing too, 65 day average vs. 45 last 6 years before retirement.

In fairness to admin, I'm sure RV options have been far more interesting than ski options this month.
 
I'm following the snowfall in Tahoe from outside the country. It looks like this will be a year where skiing in Tahoe around Xmas might be good. Our plan was to drive to San Diego but we might ski at Mt. Rose instead. Top to bottom is open. Rose has a nice option to upgrade to unrestricted pass even if you bought the restricted pass. We will wait for a few more weeks before deciding.

Mountain Notes:

Majority of the runs from the Main Lodge are OPEN!
Open to the TOP - 7 days a week!
Terrain Park on Mystic
 
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