Snowboarder Eli Greenspan at Loveland Ski Area. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Three Front Range ski areas vying for the annual distinction of being the first to open for the season could begin snowmaking operations very soon. They just need Mother Nature to cooperate.

In 15 of the past 20 years, at least one of those areas — Arapahoe Basin, Loveland and Keystone — has opened during the second or third week of October, usually relying heavily on manmade snow, The Denver Post reported. But October this year is likely to have above-average temperatures with average or slightly below-average precipitation, said Kari Bowen, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the resorts won’t be able to make snow, but a cold October doesn’t appear to be in the forecast.

Beyond that, the weather service’s Climate Prediction Center says there is a 60% chance of above-normal temperatures for the northern and central mountains over the next three months with a 60% chance of below-normal precipitation.

From the early 1980s through 2001, the rivalry to become the first Front Range ski area to open was between Keystone and Loveland. Then, in 2002, Arapahoe Basin installed snowmaking equipment, and the opening day race became a duel between A-Basin and Loveland.

The race shifted again in 2019 when Keystone got back into the game, adding 53 automated snow guns with 11,000 feet of pipe and 15 miles of electrical cable.

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