Yes, It’s Snowing Out West
October 18, 2021
Winter is on our doorsteps and has made a visit to some of the western mountains. It isn’t that unusual for us to see snow in October. What is a tad remarkable this fall is that there has been a sustained period of cold temps and some western ski areas have received over 2 feet of snow. As a result, early bird enthusiast have gotten out the backcountry gear and taken some turns on serious terrain.
This early season snow in the west has allowed several areas to announce they are opening. Wolf Creek (southern Colorado) and Arapahoe Basin opened this past weekend (October 16 & 17th). Time will tell whether the temps will stay cold enough for them to stay open. But the long range forecast for the next couple weeks looks promising with an active cold pattern for the second half of October – see Open Snow Forecast for further details. Ski Utah has shared the opening dates for the state’s resorts with Park City being the earliest planned opening on November 19th. That is the good news of this early season snowfall…
The bad news is that early deep snows like this can cause serious avalanche problems that have a tendency to last for the duration of the ski season. Avalanche centers are now hoping that ALL of this early snow will completely melt. Early snows can remain on high north facing slopes even once normal seasonal warmer fall temps return. This leftover snow turns sugary and creates a very unstable base for the seasons snowpack. It can literally ruin the backcountry skiing for the winter.
Stay tuned, but for now all this is a fun reminder of days to come!