Skico hopes cold snap allows for snowmaking at Aspen Mountain on Tuesday night | AspenTimes.com

Skico hopes cold snap allows for snowmaking at Aspen Mountain on Tuesday night

Snow guns sit among brown grass on Aspen Mountain Monday but Skico expects colder temperatures to allow snowmaking to start Tuesday night. The ski season opener is just 17 days away.

While a weekend snowstorm dumped more than 5 inches of snow on the two Colorado ski resorts that are open, it fizzled in the Aspen area.

Snowmass Ski Area picked up about 31/2 inches of snow Saturday and Sunday nights, according to Jeff Hanle, Skico vice president of communications. Similar amounts fell on the upper slopes of Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands.

Temperatures have been too high to start snowmaking. Skico lets it fly anytime after Halloween when conditions are favorable.

Crews will report to Aspen Mountain tonight, when temperatures are forecast to be more accommodating for snowmaking, according to Hanle.

"It looks like we might have a good stretch of cold weather starting (Tuesday) night," he said.

Temperatures are forecast to be at or below 24 degrees for the next five nights, including just 16 degrees Tuesday night.

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That's welcome news because Aspen Mountain and Snowmass are scheduled to open Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 23). That's just 16 days away.

Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk are not scheduled to open until Dec. 9. The scheduled closing dates this season are April 8 at Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, and April 15 at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass.

Dry conditions delayed the start of last season by four days at Aspen Mountain. The Little Nell chairlift started spinning on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

The Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies have been the big early-season winners this season. The snowpack is running two to three times above average in those regions, according to the skier-oriented weather site Open Snow. More storms are headed toward the mountains in those regions.

"This should lead to a lot of open terrain when most mountains start spinning their lifts in a few weeks," Open Snow reported.

AspenWeather.net, a micro-forecaster for the Roaring Fork Valley, said 2 to 4 inches could fall on the Aspen-Snowmass resorts tonight.

Arapahoe Basin and Loveland are the only ski resorts currently open in Colorado. They both reported early-season conditions and a small amount of terrain open Monday.

scondon@aspentimes.com