Get hyped skiers and snowboarders, 3 ski areas in Colorado now have their snow guns firing!
Great news! @KeystoneMtn has started making snow to get ready for the upcoming 2020/2021 winter season! @CopperMtn and @Arapahoe_Basin are also making snow and everyone is racing towards opening day in November pic.twitter.com/u1x9AnRQr0— Sam Schreier (@SamASchreier) October 6, 2020
Arapahoe Basin was the first to start making snow on September 28th, followed by Copper Mountain on September 29th, and finally Keystone on October 6th!
According to Bill LeClair, snowmaking manager for A Basin ski area, snowmaking will be intermittent until we hit a colder snap. Even at Arapahoe Basin's high elevation, the nights have been mild for the mountains and there's only been a night or two of great snow production.
Not only are snow makers looking for a cold night, they're monitoring something called the Wet Bulb Temperature.
The wet bulb temperature is a combination of the relative humidity and the ambient air temperature. If the air is really dry, the air can hold more water vapor, and the temperature will actually get colder from some of that water evaporates. The magic number for firing up the snow guns is around 26° F.
Snow guns will help ski areas get to opening day faster, but they're going to need a lot of help from mother nature. The rule of thumb to open a ski trail is to get to an 18" base and then rely on natural snow to take over.
Arapahoe Basin and Keystone both have the second weekend in November as their targets for opening day, while Copper Mountain will likely wait until the end of the month.