Colorado Forecast for Skiing and Snowboarding: Winter 2012/2013
For skiers and snowboarders everywhere the number one question on everyone’s mind is, how much snow will fall this season? Should you get a season pass or just buy a few tickets? Will this be a good season to travel to all the different resorts or would it be best to leave your gear at home and head to the beach? While no one can really predict what the weather will do, here is what we are expecting in the mountains so far this season with the current ocean temperatures.
Two seasons ago, Summit County experienced one of the best winters on record only to have it followed by one of the worst. All residents enjoyed skiing at Arapahoe Basin through the 4th of July in 2011, and many local reservoirs were full of water. The 2011-12 season, however, brought some the least snowfall in living memory, and Summit County was left in a dust bowl. It was hard to believe that once full reservoirs were suddenly almost dry. The rollercoaster ride has visitors and locals alike wondering about the Colorado winter forecast for the 2012-2013 season. All we really know is that La Nina has passed and with the change of the ocean temperatures and tides, it is unlikely that this will be an El Nino year.
What does this all mean though? La Nina and El Nino? La Nina seasons occur when cooler than normal subsurface waters in the tropical south pacific build up. The effect is that the Southeast part of the United States will experience a warmer than normal winter and the Pacific Northwest will be colder and wetter. So how about El Nino? El Nino seasons are the exact opposite of La Nina seasons, so the water temperatures actually rise. The effect of an El Nino season is the Northeast will experience more precipitation, and the central mountains will receive average snowfall. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has plenty of helpful information about El Nino and La Nina and the potential effects of both.
Right now, NOAA is predicting that there will be above average snowfall for the Northeast, and below average snowfall in the west. For Summit County this is excellent news. After one of the worst winters for snowfall on record, all of the ski resorts in Summit County will be looking forward to an increase in precipitation, and it will not take much to be a far better season than last year. In addition to better snowfall, many of the local resorts learned how to be more efficient and more effective with their snowmaking, which means they will be able to open terrain sooner than they have been able to in the past.
Right now, Breckenridge is reporting 5 lifts and 7 runs open for a total of 145 acres. Keystone is reporting 9 lifts and 9 runs on 170 acres. Copper is reporting 8 lifts and 15 trails on 173 acres, and Arapahoe Basin is reporting 4 lifts and 7 runs on 92 acres. While these numbers would sound small in January, keep in mind that most of these resorts opened within the last three weeks and have all increased their open terrain in that time.
More storms are in the forecast for the next month, which means that December is going to be the perfect time to visit Breckenridge and other Summit County ski resorts. Visit in early-mid December to beat the crowds, or take advantage of holiday specials and bring the family at the end of the month. Peak 1 Express is your DIA ski shuttle to the resort of your choice.