Wax up: Light snowfall coats Sunlight Mountain Resort, providing early moisture boost
Summer might not be over yet, but for Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort, an inch of snow on the high ground Friday morning was a stark reminder skiing season is just around the corner.
“It’s always exciting to show our guests new snow on the mountain,” said Troy Hawks, the resort’s marketing and sales director. “But it also sends a little panic up our spines when we realize how close the season is.”
According to the National Weather Service, a slow-moving low pressure system dumped more than an inch-and-a-half of precipitation on Glenwood Springs between Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning.
“In about two days, Glenwood received more precipitation than the average for the entire month of August,” NWS Meteorologist Kris Sanders said, explaining the area average is about 1.2 inches for August.
At the resort, the early snow is raising hopes for a good ski and snowboard season. While Friday’s snow was already gone by mid-morning, Hawks said moisture on the mountain helps lay the foundation for good skiing.
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“When the mountain is dry going into ski season, those first snows just get absorbed, and it doesn’t make for a very good base,” he said. “But, if this weather keeps up, a layer of moisture will form, then freeze as the big snows fall.”
Frozen ground on top of the mountain creates an insulating layer that can prevent winter snow from melting in a patchy pattern across the resort.
Despite below average snows in 2020-21, Hawks said it was the busiest season on record for the resort, which opened 55 years ago.
“We had a lot of new people who were just looking to get outside and have fun, rather than searching for the perfect layer of powder,” he said. “It’s always heartwarming to see new skiers join us on the mountain.”
The record-breaking season put the resort’s parking lot to the test, however. So staff used the summer to invest about $250,000 in expanding the parking lot to accommodate an additional 60-80 vehicles as well as adding six charging stations for electric vehicles, Hawks said.
Another change is in store for Sunlight visitors this year, as well. After three years of orange soda, the resort’s Sunny Pop is switching flavors this year.
“We’re putting out a root beer this time, and we’ve already had a lot of positive feedback,” Hawks said.
The resort is scheduled to open for the winter season on Dec. 10, depending on the weather.
“If we can open sooner, we certainly will,” Hawks said.
As for the August rain, Sanders said the low pressure system has moved on, so temperatures were forecast to rebound with highs in the 70s and 80s over the weekend and into the new week.
“I can’t rule out scattered showers in the elevations above 10,000 feet, especially on Saturday,” he said. “But it should be rather dry for the next few days.”
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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