In The Spotlight
A parade of fronts will move across the northwestern U.S. and Canada through the end of the week bringing snow to many peaks across the West. Meanwhile, a soggy Nor’easter primes the Northeast for colder weather ahead.
Let’s start out west, where a series of cold fronts will bring blustery and cooler conditions in shots from British Columbia to Colorado. Cooler air will spread into the northwest in waves, allowing light snow to fall over the Cascade Mountains in Washington and Oregon, and the Coast Range in British Columbia through the day on Thursday. Snow totals will be highest in British Columbia and the far northern Washington Cascades where 6"+ will add up. Elsewhere, totals will be lighter, a few inches at the peaks through Oregon, Idaho, and the northern Rockies. We like Mt. Baker in Washington and Whistler in British Columbia to grab the snow with this round.
Another, more potent burst of colder air moves through Friday. This one delivers snow to the peaks as far east as Utah's Wasatch range, Wyoming's Wind River Range, and the Colorado Rockies. In total, some of the higher mountain peaks of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado could end up with a fresh 6-12"+ of new snow through the weekend. We like Jackson Hole in Wyoming, and Silver Mountain in Idaho to win with this week’s snow forecast. The fresh snow and chill will be great for Colorado's Keystone Mountain and Arapahoe Basin who are already turning chairs, and the other resorts that plan to open soon.
In the east, an early season Nor’easter will bring mainly rain, and some wet flakes to the mountain tops Thursday. The storm, while not a big snow-maker, will usher in cooler, drier conditions by the weekend. As skies clear out Saturday and Sunday, overnight temps will dip into the 30s for many mountains in New York Adirondacks and New England. Great news for the ski area to ramp up snowmaking efforts at night. Good news for Killington in Vermont and Sunday River in Maine, which plan to open soon.
Check back in for next week's SnoCountry SnoCast- we'll dig into NOAA's winter outlook even deeper.
From a stroll in a haunted forest to great pumpkin races, and a zipline of terror a trio of Heartland ski resorts have some haunting good fun planned leading up to this Halloween. It’s also prime fall color for chairlift rides to the top of the ski hills for some brilliant vistas.
Boyne Mountain is bringing back its famed Zipline of Terror, which was featured on the Discovery Channel as one of the most unusual Halloween activities in the nation. It’s been missing for a few years, but it’s back. The zipline tours leave every 30 minutes from 7-11 p.m., October 18-19 and 25-26. It’s not suitable for young children. The cost is $69 and tickets must be bought in advance. Halloween Hoopla also takes place Oct. 25-26 with lots of daily activities planned for the family. Scenic fall chairlift rides will be available daily, family entertainment, hayrides, bonfires with s’mores, and Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark spooky activities including Great Pumpkin Races. Fall colors should be peak. You can save 15-percent on lodging rates by calling 855-905-0182 and mention promo code “zipterror.”
At Crystal Mountain you can ride the Loki lift and follow lanterns down the Haunted Trail... if you dare. The Trail is available October 18-19 and 25-26 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. It has something ghoulish around every turn in the pathway, and not recommended for younger children. The cost is $9 for ages 7 and up. Afterwards warm by a bonfire and listen to distant screams from deep in the forest. Lodging rates are 25-percent off during this period.
One of the largest Halloween parades in the Midwest takes place in Illinois’ historic Galena. The Halloween Parade and Festival takes place Oct. 26. The festival starts downtown at 2 p.m. and the parade at 6 p.m. It annually attracts around 15,000 if the weather is good. Rumor has it the ghost of U.S. Grant, who lived in the village, will sometime attend. The historic community is decked out for the celebration. Stay at Chestnut Mountain Ski Resort, which is just eight scenic miles outside town. Enjoy the blaze of fall colors that spreads across the Mississippi River basin from the lofty ridge where the hotel sits 500 feet above the river. The resort is offering Fall into Savings through October. Purchase two nights and get a third night free.
Mother Nature has begun to smile upon on the West, particularly the northern and central Rockies where significant amounts fell on resorts from Alberta to southern Colorado.
This latest storm system has focused on mountains in Alberta, Montana and Idaho, but it also dipped its tentacles down into Colorado. The Front Range resorts got the best of it, with Loveland, Arapahoe Basin and Copper welcoming 5-7 inches. Interior southern Rockies also saw snow fly at Aspen, Telluride, and Steamboat.
This snowfall comes on the heels of the season's first dumps in the northern Rockies. Some two feet fell in Alberta and Montana mountains, with significant amounts at Idaho's Schweitzer and Wyoming.
However, OpenSnow reports that the next week or so will be dry in the Rockies, with spotty accumulations in many sports. A smaller system is expected to put down a couple of inches in the Pacific Northwest. Mt. Hood Meadows could get as much as seven inches during the week of Oct. 14, with the same predicted for 49 Degrees North.
Next significant storms are expected to roll into the West at the end of the week, according to OpenSnow's Joel Gratz.
“We will see dry weather from Friday, October 11 through about Thursday, October 17,” Gratz said. “Temperatures will be cold on Friday then slowly warm back toward average readings for next week. Temperatures will continue to be cold enough for higher-elevation mountains to make snow.”
In Colorado, snowfall typically comes first to the highest slopes, prompting a congenial yet competitive contest among ski and snowboard resorts in the #racetoopen for a new season before all the rest.
Over the years, Loveland Basin and Arapahoe Basin have had the race all to themselves, because of their location on the Continental Divide. But recently Keystone has joined in – primarily because of its proximity to the Divide and devotion to snowmaking.
All three originally listed “Mid-October” as their opening dates, but A-Basin jumped ahead by opening Friday, Oct. 11 for two hours. Keystone announced a solid Oct. 12 opening date. The 25 remaining Colorado ski and snowboard resorts have specific opening dates for the 2019-20 season.
True to form, all began snowmaking in early October. A-Basin won the preliminary round by cranking up the snow guns on Oct. 2. Loveland followed on Oct. 3, and Keystone started shortly thereafter after touting a summer-long effort to upgrade its artificial snow-making capacity beyond any in the industry.
Snowmaking most always begins on runs just above the base area, so elevation means a lot. Loveland has the highest base elevation in Colorado at 10,800 feet above sea level. A-Basin is close behind at 10,780 feet, and Keystone is 9,280 feet.
Copper Mountain, just up the road with a base elevation of 9,712 feet and a location tucked into a snow pocket off the Divide, has puts it horse the race – publishing photos of snowmaking – but still tagging Nov. 8 for its opening unless Mother Nature blesses them between now and then. High-elevation powder stash Wolf Creek (10,300) often gets natural snow first but has limited snowmaking; its opening is set for Nov. 1.
A sidelight to this informal competition is the fact that A-Basin left the Vail-owned Epic Pass last season for the unusual reason that Epic Pass holders clogged parking lots and lift lines, and Keystone is one of Vail Resorts prime locales. Loveland is one of a few Colorado resorts that has remained independent of the Epic-Ikon pass wars.