Purgatory Resort has pushed back its Saturday opening for lack of snow.
Resort officials announced Thursday they now plan to open the ski area Wednesday, a day before Thanksgiving.
According to a news release, Sam Williams, senior director of mountain operations, said officials made the “difficult decision to reschedule” the ski area’s opening after nearly two weeks of above-average temperatures this fall.
This week’s storm, the resort says, dropped about 7 inches of snow on Purgatory’s slopes, but it didn’t deliver enough natural snow for the resort to open, or enough consistent cold temperatures for snowmaking.
“Our mountain crews continue to monitor temperatures, and we’ve made snow whenever we could over the last month,” Williams said. “We are working hard to prepare the mountain for our new opening day, and we feel confident with the progress we’ve already made that we’ll be able to open from top to bottom on Lift 1 beginning Wednesday.”
The average temperature in October was nearly 5 degrees colder than historic averages, according to a weather station at the Durango-La Plata County Airport. But November has been about 0.5 degrees warmer than normal, preliminary data from the National Weather Service show.
And, there’s been an extreme lack of moisture: Southwest Colorado’s snowpack is 41% of its historic average.
Now, resort officials hope a predicted cooling trend could bring up to 2 feet of snow Monday through Thanksgiving.
Erin Walter, a meteorologist for the Weather Service in Grand Junction, said a storm system from the northwest is expected to hit Colorado on Monday night into Tuesday, but forecasts are showing it’s not as favorable for snowfall in the San Juan Mountains as the storm was this week.
Then, long-range models show a potentially big snowstorm Wednesday night into Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.
“It could potentially bring widespread precipitation for all Western Colorado,” Walter said.
Wolf Creek Ski Area, on the other hand, plans to open as scheduled Saturday.
Wolf Creek, at 10,300 feet, plans to open seven days a week for the season after receiving a foot of new snow in 24 hours this week. The ski area reported 34 inches of snow this season.