Ski season opens early in Colorado

From the “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is…” department, and it just isn’t in Colorado either, Mammoth, California got an early base also.

Courtesy of Mammoth An October storm brought nearly a foot of snow to Mammoth, which opens for the season Nov. 10.

ESPN reports: This week, the first significant snowfall of the winter season hit ski areas around the country — dropping 10-plus inches of snow at higher elevations in Tahoe and Mammoth, nine inches on West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain, and causing winter storm warnings in the mountains in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado.

I’m sure somebody will find a way to blame global warming.

Colorado ski resort opens early with 44 inches of powder


WOLF CREEK SKI AREA, COLO. – The ski season in Colorado officially began on Oct. 8.

It was announced not with the din of snow-making machines pasting a path of man-made snow between dirt and rocks, but the distant whoops of avalanche-control bombs.

And accompanied by heaps of powder.

On Oct. 8, 1,500 skiers and snowboarders converged on remote Wolf Creek Ski Area, four hours from Colorado Springs, Colo., for the most memorable ski season opening in recent memory.

Every year, the Interstate 70-corridor ski areas Loveland and Arapahoe Basin compete to make enough snow for an 18-inch base on one or two ski runs to open first.

But as both were firing up snow guns for the first time on Oct. 6, an autumn storm was dumping 3 feet of snow on Wolf Creek, in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado.

Photo gallery from opening day

In a coup that will long be remembered in skiing circles, Wolf Creek announced it would be the first resort in the U.S. to open, the earliest opening in resort history. They had three lifts and 600 acres of terrain open.

“Despite the fact Loveland or A-Basin are often first, we’re usually right behind them,” said vice president Rosanne Pitcher.

After another 8 inches of snow fell the night of Oct. 7, cries of joy echoed through Wolf Creek’s pines all day.

Skiers talked about the conditions in hushed tones.

“This is a very rare treat,” said Charles Vogel, who drove 6 hours from the Western Slope. “I grew up in Colorado. I’ve been skiing since I was 4 years old, and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

“This is one of those days that I’m going to remember for years to come,” said Drew Petersen, of Silverthorne, Colo. “It’s definitely worth the drive, and I’ve got a smile on my face that hopefully lasts for a while.”

h/t to WUWT reader “Steve”

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Rattus Norvegicus
October 12, 2011 9:00 pm

You do know that Wolf Creek is famous for both early openings and copious amounts of pow, right?
In other news here in SW MT, we got a fair amount of mountain snow late last week (same widespread cold storm) but normally by this time of year we have had 6″ of snow here in town. So far none, just rain. Long range is for a cold and snowy winter up here, but we are still waiting for our first real cold snap…

John W
October 12, 2011 9:01 pm

See, GW does = more snow ……
…… or less snow (whichever happens, wherever it happens)
…… or floods, or droughts, or hurricanes, or tornadoes, or etc. etc.

October 12, 2011 9:04 pm

al gore nearby giving a speech?

October 12, 2011 9:06 pm

Don’tcha know that the hypothesis of AGW is now Climate Disruption……? It’s the hotter, colder, wetter, drier, calmer, windier climate theory of everything….. and for the small, insignificant price of a whole western economy…. I can sell you a bottle of CD antidote….;-)

Mark T
October 12, 2011 9:09 pm

Drool… Here I was happy about all the snow on pike’s peak. Copper on the 4th…

Richard Abbott
October 12, 2011 9:11 pm

Hmmm…Must be getting all the snow that the zealot (well a botanist) said would no longer be falling on Australia’s Snowy Mountains!

October 12, 2011 9:14 pm

Tioga Pass over the Sierras was also closed (temporarily) due to the first winter snow this year. That colder Pacific ocean is likely to bring some serious snow our way this year. Meanwhile, CO2 continues to increase.

Interstellar Bill
October 12, 2011 9:19 pm

Don’t worry, it’s only a ‘pause’ on our way to CO2 Doom!
Remember the scene in the movie Trading Places,
when the two Evil Old Duke Brothers
have been snookered into total ruin by our heroes,
Ralph Bellamy falls to a heart attack and
Don Ameche screams in futility
“Get those people back in here.
Turn those machines back on!”
The Warmistas are similarly in a panic at ever-earlier snowfalls,
ever-more bitter winters, and most nightmarish of all, declining sea-levels.
Their multiplier never existed,
the actual feedback is negative,
CO2 is radiantly third-order, mainly boosting plants:
so in similar futility, they scream
“Get those sea-levels back up. Turn that global warming back on!”

Brian H
October 12, 2011 9:19 pm

Ratso, that was the earliest ever for them.

October 12, 2011 9:21 pm

rotten snow

October 12, 2011 9:35 pm

But GW does produce unexpected GC experiences.
Acclimatized: What will happen when weather makes you forget what it was like the last 30 years.
Weather (dog) chases Climate (tail).

October 12, 2011 9:40 pm

Rattus Norvegicus,
Montana looks to have quite a bit more snow as well as precipitation than average:

October 12, 2011 9:58 pm

Great, I’m booked at Aspn and Vail in Dec-Jan, using hard earned money from the Australian mining boom, so should enjoy it now before the carbon tax, the mining tax, the bureaucrat expenses tax, the academic global warming research and exotic conference tax, etc etc all kick in.

Richard Patton
October 12, 2011 10:08 pm

First resort to open? The upper runs at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood Or. are open all summer long! But since they don’t close I suppose that you can say they aren’t ‘opening.’

Gail Combs
October 12, 2011 10:20 pm

thingadonta says:
October 12, 2011 at 9:58 pm
Great, I’m booked at Aspen and Vail in Dec-Jan, using hard earned money from the Australian mining boom….
Enjoy, Hope you get three feet of virgin powder like I did when I was there. It is awesome skiing.

Neil Jones
October 12, 2011 10:39 pm

Similar weather happened in Switzerland with the area around St Moritz going from late Summer to Winter (Snow into the valley bottom) without the usual cold sunny Autumn.

Amino Acids in Meteorites
October 12, 2011 11:31 pm

Where are all the politicians that were on tv worrying over the ski industry closing down from global warming, Barbara Boxer?

Mark T
October 12, 2011 11:42 pm

Skiing at Wolf Creek, of course, Amino…

October 13, 2011 12:35 am

Not quite 3 ft yet but snow has also fallen early on the Scottish ski slopes –
A few years ago the Glenshee Ski Centre went into Administration (think Chapter 11) because of lack of snow. Seems the weather (or is it climate?) has changed recently. /sarc off

October 13, 2011 12:42 am

My sister has a condo in Tahoe… Thank you AGW!!!

hotrod (Larry L)
October 13, 2011 12:51 am

We had light snow in the western Denver Metro area over the weekend, snow level was about 6000 ft altitude. Did not last long due to rain mixed in with it. Pretty typical this time of year, historical earliest snow in the Denver Metro Area is the first week of September, so this is about the normal time for snow flurries to begin to appear in the higher terrain in the Metro basin.
Not uncommon for several inch deep snow falls to begin around Halloween in the city.

October 13, 2011 1:43 am

Interstellar Bill says
October 12, 2011, 9:19 pm
LOL, nice post.

Alex the skeptic
October 13, 2011 3:39 am

It’s the Ozzie carbon tax you fools. It was passed through parliament yesterday. It’s already working. Carbon taxes causing CO2 levels to crash, cooling the planet in the process. Gillard should be awarded the noble prize for lies, I mean science, or peace, or whatever.

October 13, 2011 3:47 am

Mr. Jones, maybe you can tell the *whole story* about the Alps???
In fact there was one day of snow breaking up two months of hot summerweather (although actually autumn should have started) August and September, September being – even with this one day snowfall – the hottest ever recorded. Glacier melt was 7% in only one year time!

October 13, 2011 4:24 am

Has anybody actually tested this white stuff, I mean chemically tested it to make sure it actually is what we used to call snow?

October 13, 2011 4:36 am

Of course, David Viner of “Snow is a thing of the past” fame, has his reward. He earns £70k pa promoting “Climate Change” at the British Council.
A nice cushy number with lots of foreign travel.

October 13, 2011 5:19 am

Paul Homewood says:
October 13, 2011 at 4:36 am
Of course, David Viner of “Snow is a thing of the past” fame, has his reward. He earns £70k pa promoting “Climate Change” at the British Council.
A nice cushy number with lots of foreign travel.
Not by air…….surely?.

John Garrett
October 13, 2011 5:51 am

Now, now. Let’s not have any triumphalism; the science isn’t settled and the war is far from over. We all know that weather isn’t climate; natural variability musn’t be confused with secular change.

Rhys Jaggar
October 13, 2011 5:53 am

The ski resorts would rather no snow until 7 days before Thanksgiving, then 2 metres and no melts before April, than snow in early October followed by a poor period up to Christmas, to be frank.
They’ll be treating this as a bonus.

October 13, 2011 5:59 am

(SarcOn)The IPCC reports this morning that the recent and pending snow accumulation in the Colorado Rockies is of a new and shortlived version that has never before been seen on Earth. It is still made of H20, but unlike normal snow it has a Neogeogenetic OxyCarbon marker attached to each snowflake. Neogeogenetic OxyCarbon (NOC) markers were first postulated in 11,245(BCE) by Hermanious Mannish Jonesic Hansenatus Goregon-Boshe, a forebearer of several of today’s world famous climatologists, political giants, and extemporanious college, university, and Mainstream Media “Chicken Circuit” speakers who can be booked for your next occassion by calling the UN Headquarters Social Affairs Office at (666)666-6666 (X666), ask for Packi. This discovery confirms all previous findings and fears of horrorful AGW forecasts and means that this snow will melt faster than any snow ever has before. POC: National Wildlife Fund, Attn: G.Sorenose, (666)666-6666 (X666). (SarcOff)

Tom in Florida
October 13, 2011 6:05 am

Were there any places that are historically snow free in summer that were not this year?

More Soylent Green!
October 13, 2011 6:13 am

I’m going to take a week off and take the grandkids out to see the snow. If Al Gore is correct, it may be the only chance they will ever get to experience snow in person.
BTW: Anybody want to buy some futures in Alaskan beach-front property?

October 13, 2011 6:27 am

“Similar weather happened in Switzerland with the area around St Moritz going from late Summer to Winter (Snow into the valley bottom) without the usual cold sunny Autumn.”
No snow in St Moritz !

Tom Murphy
October 13, 2011 6:47 am

It appears the posters have not learned well the blessed dogma. Let us consult the Book of Change, as provided by the the Keepers of the Melt – NASA.
“When we talk about climate change, we talk about changes in long-term averages of daily weather. Today, children always hear stories from their parents and grandparents about how snow was always piled up to their waists as they trudged off to school. Children today in most areas of the country haven’t experienced those kinds of dreadful snow-packed winters…,” – .
So you see, unbelievers, the problem is that we are viewing the issue from the wrong endpoint – the snow’s icy bite. We must endeavor, earnestly, to view climate disruption from the correct terminal – the sun’s warming kiss. Again and verily, the venerated NASA should be consulted:
“If summers seem hotter lately, then the recent climate may have changed. In various parts of the world, some people have even noticed that springtime comes earlier now than it did 30 years ago. An earlier springtime is indicative of a possible change in the climate.”
Thus, anecdotal tellings of snows that seem to have arrived more early than past years are outliers to be discarded solely for their heretical nature; this is just and pure when the planet’s fate is involved. Instead, we should be focused of mind, will, and manipulated statistics on the summers when it comes to storytelling for this approach shall be true and (more importantly) valid – well, valid when we rightly deem p < 0.9 to be significant… Amen.

Jeff L
October 13, 2011 6:51 am

A-basin opens today :
Note that it has only been 100 days since A-Basin closed on July 4th
It’s also worth noting that Wolf Creek opened on all natural snow – not man made – earliest opening ever on purely natural snow (usually most early Colorado openings are on a largely manmade base).

Steve Keohane
October 13, 2011 7:07 am

The Colorado River basin is still running high, yet the mountains are now accruing snow. The accrual began in early Sept. and we have had several snows since then, sticking at least for several hours as low as my elevation at 6600′. Run off next spring should be interesting.

October 13, 2011 8:07 am

Its warm snow though…

Tilo Reber
October 13, 2011 8:28 am

From a skier living in Colorado. The first opening is always a competition in Colorado. Every ski area wants to make the claim. However, it usually doesn’t happen until the third week of October. And snow isn’t the only issue. Most areas have snow making; and what is required there is that the weather be cold enough to sustain the snow when it is made.

Frank K.
October 13, 2011 8:45 am

Now, now people – just remember, weather is NOT climate – err – unless it’s warmer than normal – or the models happened to predict it – and the models are ALWAYS right – uhhh – unless their not – then – it DOESN’T MATTER – because every schoolboy knows that CO2 is a “heat trapping” gas – err – like water vapor – which is everywhere – and – OOOOOOOOOOOOOHHH, don’t CONFUSE ME!
Jeff L says:
October 13, 2011 at 6:51 am
A-basin opens today :
Haven’t been there in a while, but I LOVE A-Basin!

October 13, 2011 9:38 am

Jockdownsouth says:
October 13, 2011 at 12:35 am
Not quite 3 ft yet but snow has also fallen early on the Scottish ski slopes –

Wow, that brings back memories. I skied Aviemore back in ’81. The most dangerous thing I’ve ever done in my life – and I roadrace motorcycles!

Leon Brozyna
October 13, 2011 10:35 am

It just struck me that today is the 5th anniversary of the October Surprise Storm which hit Buffalo and environs with several inches (plus) of heavy wet snow. With leaves still on many trees and many still green, the result was devastating to the trees as limbs snapped off throughout the night. When we awoke on the morning of the 13th to no power, it was an awesome sight. The snow had finally stopped and it seemed the world had ground to a very silent halt … there were no cars on the road out front and the plows couldn’t get through due to all the heavy limbs on the roads … plus power lines, though most of those were harmless after the night’s fireworks at the substation (lit up the night sky for several hours). I was in the area hit with two feet of the stuff … and despite stories of a quick melt of a couple days, for us it was more like five days. Waited a couple days for enough snow to melt so we could find all the buried branches to cart off so we could begin to shovel.
Naturally enough, the region’s environmentalists and true believers were quick to pounce on the event as evidence of gobal warming … it causes extreme weather events, don’t you know. I’m sure all our ancestors will be relieved to know that all those severe storms they’d experienced for centuries were all signs of global warming.

Richard Day
October 13, 2011 10:42 am

How is this possible? Maybe the soon-to-be-melted Himalayan glaciers and the once-snows of Kilimanjaro somehow teleported to Colorado. There should be a model of this somewhere in East Anglia.

October 13, 2011 10:48 am

We live near Wolf Creek. The ski resort there never opened so early, not in my memory, nor in the memory of the old-timers. Glad we were careful enough to prepare lots of wood for the coming winter — partially because we could get true information from Mr. Watts’ excellent site. (Last winter was also unusually cold and extremely long.)

October 13, 2011 10:51 am

Co-worker was in Peublo CO yesterday. Flew back in this morning (MN). Reports going to Pike’s Peak to hike a bit, watch a sunset. Noted that above 6 or 7 thousand, everything was SNOW COVERED.
Report from the Field!

Craig W.
October 13, 2011 10:58 am

In related news, snow that fell in North Carolina back on October 1 was confirmed by the NWS as the earliest ever fallen in the state.

R. Gates
October 13, 2011 12:28 pm

Colorado has about 8 different major water shed areas:
Each with different dynamics in terms of where the major sources of moisture come from. The major source of water is of course the Pacific, with SST’s in specfic regions of the Pacific affecting winter snowfall amounts in respective watershed. The general rule is, by the way, the warmer the area of the Pacific related to a watershed area, the greater snowfall during the winter in a respective watershed, as of course, warmer water can evaporate more moisture. It is not the cold water of the Pacific, right of the CA coast that determines how much snow falls in Colorado– far from it. The areas in question are ususally thousands of miles out in the Pacific, some closer to Japan than to the U.S. where the moisture comes from.
For an interesting study the gives a nice case example of a region of the Pacific that affects snowpacks in Colorado (and other western states) see:

Common Sense
October 13, 2011 1:31 pm

Here in the Denver suburbs, we haven’t even had a first freeze yet, the average is Oct 7th. Not that I’m complaining, my garden is still blooming!
I’m afraid though, that with another La Nina, we’ll be watering all winter. Last year was horribly dry. We’ve only had one day of rain in the past 3 months or so.

October 13, 2011 1:49 pm

I wish I knew how to ski, it looks incredible out there!

October 13, 2011 5:53 pm

RE : Craig W. says:
October 13, 2011 at 10:58 am
That same shot of cold-air-aloft gave parts of Western PA their “earliest ever” measurable snow a day or two before. (They’d had flurries in September before, but never snow that accumulated.)
It was interesting to follow that snow as it moved south, watching radar loops. It never made it east to where I live, in New Hampshire, but instead moved through Virginia to North Carolina.
Sometimes a hard winter gives you a warning shot across your bow, followed by a long and lovely Indian Summer. (I recall such a case described in one of those “Little House In The Prairie” books called “The Long Winter.”) (Funny how I’m getting to a point where I trust old books more than Hansen’s records.)

October 13, 2011 6:24 pm

Down in the southern hemisphere spring snow keeps falling extending the ski season and closing Cordillera passes between Argentina-Chile.

October 13, 2011 6:40 pm

RE: Jockdownsouth says:
October 13, 2011 at 12:35 am
I reckon Cairngorm also got a decent amount.

Tim Clark
October 14, 2011 8:28 am

hotrod (Larry L) says:
October 13, 2011 at 12:51 aM
“Not uncommon for several inch deep snow falls to begin around Halloween in the city.”
Earliest heavy snow I can remember out on the plains in Logan County, CO
was 38″ on Oct 30, 1973.

October 14, 2011 7:33 pm

Rattus Norvegicus says:
October 12, 2011 at 9:00 pm
> You do know that Wolf Creek is famous for both
> early openings and copious amounts of pow, right?
It’s also famous for…
Wolf Creek Pass way up on the Great Divide
Truckin on dowwwwn the other siiiiide

October 18, 2011 2:37 pm

Hi folks,
how much snow will be left next week?
The hoax ’bout early winter in St.Moritz was a funny one, too.

Brian H
October 19, 2011 10:48 am

MFKBoulder says:
October 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm
Hi folks,
how much snow will be left next week?


At the moment, 20″ summit, 16″ midway, and it’s open for the weekend.

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