FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Arizona Snowbowl, or at least parts of it, are now open for a new ski season, after officials with the ski area delayed their initial opening day due to not having any snow.
The ski area opened at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24.
"Our snowmakers have been working tirelessly to produce the best quality snow for another great opening day and will continue to strive to get more terrain open throughout the week as weather permits. Please note only expert terrain is available at this time and no beginner terrain will be available until further notice," read a portion of the statement released on Nov. 22.
As parts of the ski area opened, Koby Atlas, Dylan Conklin, and their group of friends were all thankful there is finally some snow on the ground.
"It’s a little slow this season," said Atlas. "Two years ago, it was dropping in November. This season is a little slow. I have hope that it’s gonna be dropping soon."
On Nov. 24, only four runs were open, thanks to some natural accumulation overnight and some of the manmade stuff being churned out by the snowmaking machines.
"Water and air shooting in, then letting Mother Nature do the rest," said Resort Services Director Ryan Hartl. "It's water and air mixture going into the atmosphere and freezing, coming down as snow."
Despite the ski area opening only its expert trails, a good crowd still lined up for opening day.
Lack of snow delayed opening day
The popular ski and snowboarding spot in Northern Arizona was planning to open some of its initial runs for the season on Nov. 18.
"We’ve usually made our opening day. This is an unusual situation to have these warm temperatures and not make our opening day," said Rob Linde with Arizona Snowbowl.
As soon as more snow drops, Arizona Snowbowl plans to fully open its trails.
Warmer, drier winter predicted
As a temperature phenomenon known as La Niña keeps storms further north, this winter is predicted to be warmer and drier.
According to the National Ocean Service, which belongs to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, cold water in the Pacific pushes the jet stream northward, which leads to drought in the southern part of the United States, and heavy rains and flooding in the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
"During a La Niña year, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the South and cooler than normal in the North," officials wrote.
"We’re in a weak La Niña tight now, expected to go to moderate, and the forecast is for warmer-than-normal and below-normal precipitation," said Darren McCollum, Lead Meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Flagstaff. "Now, we still get snowstorms, even in La Niña years, and we’ve gotten some pretty major snowstorms."
NWS officials say they see a slight chance of snow in the Flagstaff area around Thanksgiving Day, for now.
Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff, Arizona (Arizona Snowbowl)
Leave prepared before heading north
The Arizona Department of Transportation is reminding drivers who are heading north to never park along highways to play in the snow.
Use the highway shoulders for emergencies only. Parking on them to play in the snow is hazardous in the following ways:
- Other drivers may be distracted by your vehicle.
- Other drivers may pull over as well to play in the snow, compounding the problem.
- Your vehicle may interfere with first responders who need to use the shoulder.
- Plows can throw snow and ice far off highways.
- It’s much safer to re-enter highways from on-ramps and other designated entrances
"Also, it’s not uncommon for lots of desert dwellers to take the opportunity to head north to play in the snow. So, remember to pack your patience and expect to spend extended time in your vehicle getting to and from snow play areas."
ADOT's suggestions for items to take along:
- Warm clothing and blankets
- A fully charged mobile phone and charger
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Drinking water
- Healthy snacks
- First-aid kit and necessary medications
- Ice scraper
- Small bag of sand or kitty litter for wheel traction
- Small folding shovel for snow removal
- Travel tool kit and battery cables
- Safety flares
- Plastic bags or containers for sanitation
- Road map(s)
ADOT says you and your vehicle must be prepared for driving in wintry conditions, including snow, ice and freezing temperatures.
- Get plenty of rest
- Plan your route in advance and notify someone about your route, destination and arrival time
- Take frequent breaks from driving
- Make sure your fuel tank is at least half to three-quarters full at all times
- Use snow tires, chains or studded tires as recommended or required. Studded tires are permitted on Arizona highways from Oct. 1 to May 1.
- Ensure your wipers, window defroster, headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals work
- Change your motor oil to a winter grade
- For electric or hybrid vehicles, be sure the battery has sufficient voltage and the connection cables are tight
Get more safety tips at https://azdot.gov/KnowSnow
For Flagstaff area snow-play locations, see FlagstaffArizona.org's Winter Recreation Map or call 844-256-SNOW.
- Call 511 anywhere in Arizona or 1-888-411-ROAD (7623)
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