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Warm, dry conditions result in slow start to ski season


Loveland Ski Area

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LOVELAND SKI AREA, Colo. — Persistent warm and dry conditions are making for a slow start to the ski season in Colorado.

Only Arapahoe Basin in Summit County has opened its slopes for the 2016-17 ski season. Keystone Resort was scheduled to open Friday, but it announced this week it had pushed back its opening day to Nov. 11.

Loveland Ski Area, which annually battles with Arapahoe Basin to be the first in Colorado to open, might have its first skiers and snowboarders next week. The latest Loveland has opened is Nov. 6.

Most of the resorts can make snow at night, but the warm conditions during the day make it go away.

“We started making snow in early October,” said Dustin Schaefer with Loveland Ski Area. “Then w got that warm streak that made us stop snowmaking operations.”

Officials in the ski industry aren’t worried, saying they have seen a similar pattern in the past and they know the snow will come. The past three years were record-breaking for ski visitors.

Besides Keystone, Breckenridge Ski Resort and Copper Mountain are scheduled to open Nov. 11. Winter Park is targeting Nov. 16, Vail is scheduled to open Nov. 18 and Beaver Creek is shooting for Nov. 23.

October 2016 was the fourth-warmest October in Denver on record, according to the National Weather Service. Temperature records go back to 1873. Denver recorded no snow in October for the third consecutive year.

And things don’t look to change much. A storm system is moving into Colorado from the south, and the southern mountains can expect 3-9 inches of snow above 10,000 feet on Saturday.

But the central and northern mountains will get no more than 3 inches of accumulation from the system.

An area of high pressure looks to sit over Colorado for most of next week, producing mainly sunny skies and keeping conditions dry and warm. The latest first snow in Denver was Nov. 21, 1934.

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