A sunny weekend is expected to follow one of the biggest snowstorms of the season for Summit County so far.
An overnight storm dumped nearly a foot of snow on parts of Summit County, softening up the slopes and giving local students a chance to sleep in with a two-hour delayed start for the Summit School District Friday morning.
Copper Mountain reported 9 inches of fresh powder Friday. Keystone Resort got 5 inches, Breckenridge Ski Resort reported 8 and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area received 6 inches of new snow from the short but potent storm.
The snow began to fall after sunset Thursday and accelerated early Friday morning, falling as heavily as 2 inches per hour in places around 6 a.m. Friday.
The storm, the third to bring significant snowfall to Summit County since the first of the year, helped lagging snow totals begin to catch up to yearly averages.
After December produced only 4.4 inches of snow in Breckenridge, the town has received 25.5 inches in January, exceeding the average 23.6 inches. But the 54.1 total inches of snowfall so far this season still falls well behind the 86-inch average for this point in the year and stands in stark contrast to last year's nearly record breaking season.
But combined with snow making efforts, the new snow Thursday night helped local resorts continue to open upper and advanced terrain. Keystone opened Independence Bowl Friday as well as Wolverine, Wildfire, Pika, The Slot and 100 percent of Go Devil, while Breckenridge has opened Way out and Double Barrel off the 6 Chair.
Copper Mountain is set to open Highline, 17 Glade, Black Bear Glade, Free Fall Glade today and mountain operations teams hope to also get Sail Away Glades, Far West, Union Meadows and Little Trees this weekend as well.
"About two weeks ago we started hearing that forecast models were changing, and since then the snow has seemed to fall regularly," said Keystone spokeswoman Laura Parquette. "We've waited a long time for it, but it's been worth it with great conditions across the mountain and new terrain seemingly opening daily. The snowmakers and groomers have been the heroes of the season thus far, and mother nature is complementing the work they've done and allowing us to expand terrain."
Keystone is also launching cat-skiing tours today.
The avalanche danger for Vail and Summit County spiked to high again Friday, as between 6 and 11 inches new powder fell on the unstable snowpack in the backcountry.
The greatest danger Friday was found on north, northeast, east and southeast slopes near and above treeline. Large, human-triggered avalanches were very likely, particularly on slopes steeper than 30 degrees, according to the most recent reports from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
The next few days are expected to bring drier weather, according to National Weather Service forecasts, with higher winds likely today.
Though clear, today will be colder, with highs only in the mid-20s and wind-chill values as low as -8, according to NWS forecasts.
The weather is expected to warm into upper 30s on Sunday.
The next chance for snow is early next week.
Weather and avalanche forecasts change daily. Up to date information is available online at www.weather.gov and at avalanche.state.co.us.