Paige Blankenbuehler
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December 8, 2012
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Winter burst blankets Summit County

Skiers and riders, now is your moment. Most lifts start running at 9 a.m. and a layer of powder awaits. Today is the first significant snowfall of December, following a mostly dry November.

To the delight of local ski areas, snowmaking efforts this weekend are complimented by a piling of natural snow - 5-8 inches were forecasted overnight for Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin.

"Sunday is going to be a great day to be out on the mountain," said Joel Gratz, a meteorologist reporting for Open Snow.

Breckenridge Ski Resort opens Bonanza to the Cashier trail to Lower American on Peak 9 today with access from the Beaver Run SuperChair. The ski area has six lifts running, with eight trails open - a total of 186 acres of skiable terrain.

Breck officials said with additional snowfall and snowmaking efforts, more terrain will open soon.

Keystone Resort is planning to opening North Peak before Christmas. However, the date has yet to be determined and will largely depend on the amount of natural snow in the county leading up to the holiday.

The resort leads the county with the most terrain available. Night skiing and tubing are also up and running. The Keystone A51 Terrain Park has beginner boxes on Scout Trail, intermediate to advanced jibs in The Alley and jumps on Park Lane.

Ice skating at Dercum Square and the Lakeside Ice Rink are open. Ski area officials said the resort's snowmaking efforts will continue throughout this weekend's storm.

Copper Mountain offers 240 skiable acres this weekend. The ski area is also the only mountain in the county with a 22' superpipe feature. Throughout the weekend, riders and skiers can join ski area staff to celebrate Copper's 40th anniversary.

"Based on skier visits, (Saturday) has been our busiest day so far this season," said Katherine Bush, spokeswoman for Copper Mountain. "We don't have any new terrain scheduled to open (Sunday), but the snow will certainly help Copper open terrain over the coming weeks."

Arapahoe Basin reported 4 inches of snowfall by Saturday afternoon. The ski area has 100 skiable acres and seven trails open.

"It just feels good," said Alan Henceroth, chief operating officer of the ski area.

"This skiing (Saturday) was excellent, soft and fluffy," Henceroth said. "We had a good night of snowmaking last night and are making headway on opening Lower Sundance."

Loveland Ski Area officials reported an accumulation of 8 inches of new snow from the storm.

"More snow is on the way," said Dustin Schaefer, from Loveland's marketing department. "Think snow."

With most of the county set to receive up to 8 inches by Sunday, more snow is forecasted, calling for up to 4 additional inches possible at high elevations.

After a break in snowfall Sunday night, more snow will hit the northern half of the state on Monday and Tuesday morning, Gratz said.

"Expect just a few inches total from this storm, though a few areas along the northern Continental Divide north of Interstate 70 could see more significant snow," Gratz said.

Tuesday afternoon through Thursday morning will be dry, but another storm is forecasted to hit the High Country Thursday afternoon through Friday.

"This storm will likely favor the southern San Juans - they need it - but all mountains in the northern part of the state will see snow," Gratz said.

Beyond Friday, only time will tell but the forecast is steering clear of sunny conditions with high temperatures ranging from 30 degrees down to the low 20s for the next week.

"The weather pattern beyond next week looks stormy, so hopefully your emotions are in a much better spot now than they were a week ago," Gratz said.


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The Summit Daily Updated Dec 9, 2012 05:50PM Published Dec 8, 2012 11:37PM Copyright 2012 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.