After last year’s unseasonably dry and warm winter, things appear to have started out better for winter 2018-19: Purgatory Resort was able to begin making snow at 10 p.m. Sunday.
Kim Oyler, director of communications, said the resort was able to make snow for “a solid 12 hours.”
Purgatory should be heartened by the forecast for Southwest Colorado.
Jim Pringle, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said a system should produce rain at lower elevations and snow down to about 8,500 feet from Tuesday through Thursday, with snow possibly dipping lower than 8,500 feet late Tuesday and early Wednesday.
Pringle expects the storm could drop 4 to 8 inches of snow below 10,000 feet and 6 to 12 inches above 10,000 feet.
“We’re starting out on a positive precipitation note for fall in Western Colorado,” Pringle said.
Temperatures in the mountains are expected to dip to 24 degrees from Tuesday night through Thursday night. Daytime highs in the mountains are expected to be in the mid-30s.
Nighttime lows in Durango are expected to be in the mid to high 30s from Tuesday through Thursday. Highs in Durango are expected to be in the high 40s to low 50s from Tuesday through Thursday.
Another storm could move into the region Oct. 23, Pringle said. Next week’s storm, he said, initially looks to have warmer temperatures, but by midweek temperatures are expected to drop.
Even better news for Purgatory and skiers – the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center expects a weak to moderate El Niño to form from November to early April, Pringle said.
El Niños tend to favor above-average snowfall for the southern San Juan Mountains.
“I hope it pans out,” Pringle said. “It should if we’re going into an El Niño, even if it is a weak to moderate one.”
A few more snowstorms would be a great aid to Purgatory to open by its scheduled opening date, Nov. 17.
“It’s always awesome to have natural snow,” Oyler said.
Still, even if storms don’t materialize, Oyler expected Purgatory to open Nov. 17 with runs open on about 20 percent of its terrain that can be covered by snowmaking.
Purgatory has the ability to make snow on the frontside of the mountain and in the Lift 3 and Lift 8 areas, Oyler said.