CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Ski resorts in Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah have been forced to delay opening for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend or have few ski runs open because unseasonably warm weather limited their ability to produce man-made snow.
In Wyoming, the Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole Mountain resorts were not predicting Wednesday when they would open but the resorts were hoping snowfall forecast for Wednesday night and Thursday might help them do so.
Snowpack in Colorado’s mountains is at its lowest level in 30 years and the Beaver Creek resort pushed back its opening day from Wednesday to Friday.
The snow woes for Rocky Mountains ski areas contrasted with early skiing in California, where resorts have enjoyed solid dumps of snow recently following drought conditions in recent years. The state’s Mammoth Mountain opened for skiers and snowboarders on Nov. 10.
The opening delay for Grand Targhee Resort came after it got nearly 60 inches of snow in October that ended up melting on the lower mountain slopes during a warm and dry November, said spokesman Ken Rider, forcing the ski area to delay the start to its season for the first time since 1998.
In recent years, many Rocky Mountains resorts started opening by Thanksgiving.
Sun Valley Resort in central Idaho said only one run will be open on Thursday and likely through the holiday weekend.
“They tried making snow for two or three days but it got to 50 to 55 degrees and that hurt,” said Jake Hanson, a ski resort ticket salesperson.
But workers were making snow Wednesday morning and natural snow was falling, giving some hope for skiers arriving for the long holiday weekend.
“It’s snowing right now and they’re working hard to get snow up there,” Hanson said. “They’re going full blast.”
In Utah, Brighton Resort announced Wednesday it would start operating two ski lifts Friday because of fresh snowfall and man-made snow it managed to produce this week.
A ski resort in southern New Mexico won’t be able to open on Thanksgiving due to warm temperatures and minimal precipitation.
KVIA-TV in El Paso, Texas reported (https://goo.gl/M7n4ZV) Ski Apache in New Mexico has delayed opening until mid-December.
Ski Apache spokesman Justin Huffmon said the resort tried to make snow, but it has not been enough so far.
This story has been corrected to show that many Rocky Mountains started opening by Thanksgiving, not Western U.S. resorts, in recent years.
Associated Press writers Keith Ridler in Boise, Idaho, and Thomas Peipert in Denver contributed to this report.