A surge of consecutive storms over the last week coated Summit County with a long-awaited layer of new snow, treating most local ski areas to approximately a foot of fresh powder and snarling traffic on Interstate 70.
This weekend's weather is expected to be only the beginning of a new pattern that will likely deliver more precipitation to the mountains, meteorologists say.
More snow is already in the forecast for the weekend, and additional systems with possible precipitation are expected early next week.
"The next storm arrives on Friday morning through Saturday afternoon and will bring the highest accumulations to the San Juans during the day on Friday," forecaster Joel Gratz stated on his weather blog OpenSnow.com. "Saturday night and Sunday look to be on the dry side, but another storm is likely Sunday night through Monday and then another storm or two could follow during the remainder of next week."
Temperatures, which dipped into the single digits below zero in the thick of the last storm, are expected to creep back into the high 20s today and Thursday, with overnight lows still in the teens and single digits.
The next storm arriving on Friday will not be nearly as cold as the last one, according to National Weather Service forecasts. Highs are expected to remain in the 20s Friday and Saturday.
Recent storms favored local ski areas with 11-17 inches of fresh powder over the last few days, with the heaviest snowfall arriving on Saturday and lighter accumulations continuing through Monday night.
"With more snow predicted in the forecast and new terrain slated to open, we couldn't be more excited that winter is here," Copper Mountain spokeswoman Stephanie Sweeney said.
Copper reported a total of 9 inches of new snow over three days Tuesday and 11 inches in the last week.
Five inches of new snow accumulated at Keystone Resort Monday, bringing the weekly total to a foot.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area saw a foot of new snow over the course of three days, with 3 new inches arriving Monday, according to online reports Tuesday.
Breckenridge Ski Resort also got 3 inches of new snow Monday, and was reporting 17 inches in the past week Tuesday afternoon.
But the same storms that improved conditions on the slopes, caused problems for drivers on Interstate 70. The highway was closed at the Eisenhower Tunnel Sunday after snowpacked conditions led to multiple accidents.
The Denver Post contributed to the reporting of this story.