A white Christmas? Meteorologists say ‘yes’
Ryan Summerlin December 23, 2012
With an impending storm and 3,120 acres of skiing available at ski areas throughout the county, Christmas Day is shaping up to be nothing short of marvelous.
Skiing and riding is now available on all three of Keystone’s peaks with the addition of The Outback and numerous trails, totaling more than 1,400 acres of terrain available for the holiday weekend.
The resort has nearly 50 percent of its 3,148 total skiable acres open with a majority of its available terrain for night skiing and riding, which remains open until 8 p.m. starting tonight through Jan. 5.
Free parking is available after 2 p.m. at the Mountain House, and free transportation to and from Keystone’s River Run Village and other lodging facilities is available nightly from Mountain House.
The resort’s tubing offering begins daily operations today as well, and will continue through the end of the season. Night tubing, including disco- and ’80s-themed tubing under the lights is available nightly through Jan. 6.
Trails were added on Dercum, North Peak and The Outback Saturday. Keystone’s A51 Terrain Park opened Freda’s Incubator and I-70 parks. Freda’s will offer small- and beginner-sized features for first-time terrain park users, while more experienced skiers and riders will enjoy more than 50 box and rail features and medium-to-large jumps across I-70, Main Street, Park Lane and The Alley.
With more natural snow in the forecast for early this week, Keystone officials said they will continue to expand terrain, with preparations beginning already on terrain serviced by the resort’s KAT ski operations.
Breckenridge Ski Resort has 983 acres open to skiers and riders across peaks 7, 8 and 9. The resort also opened the Freeway Terrain Park and the its 22-foot superpipe to the public – guests can to ride the same features used during the Dew Tour Mountain Championships.
Peak 8’s T-Bar and an additional 230 acres of upper-mountain terrain, including Horseshoe and Contest bowls, opened Saturday.
“It’s going to be great at Breckenridge for the holidays,” said Alysa Hetze, spokeswoman for the resort. “We have a lot of variety right now and every day we keep opening more – it’s hard to keep track of all the trails opening throughout the day.”
Hetze said trail openings happen spontaneously throughout the day depending on weather and snowmaking operations in conjunction with ski patrol.
“My advice to skiers and riders is to keep an eye on your favorite trails as they come closer to opening – when trails are ready, ski patrol gives the go-ahead,” Hetze said. “The skiers out on the hill find out about the fresh openings first.”
All weekend and through Christmas Day, the base-area lifts will start turning at 8:30 a.m.
Closed trails may contain hazards due to limited natural snow coverage and snowmaking operations. Skiers and riders should keep off closed trails and out of closed areas for safety reasons, Hetze said.
Copper Mountain has 650 acres for holiday turns after receiving 20 inches of new snow in the last week.
The resort celebrates its annual Christmas Eve En Fuego event, kicking off with a free rail session presented by Woodward at Copper at 4 p.m. Monday. Bonfires will be set up throughout Center Village and Burning Stones Plaza as holiday events get under way.
Weather forecasters, like John Pringle with the National Weather Service stationed in Grand Junction, say it’s likely the county will enjoy having a white Christmas this year.
“There’s a storm system – not a very huge one – moving through northern Colorado bringing the most snow to the Rocky Mountain region Monday night,” Pringle said. “Holidays at the ski areas should be good.”
Christmas is not shaping up to be a bluebird day though, with a forecast of mostly cloudy conditions, he added.
A slight chance of snow is forecasted before 11 a.m. today, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Areas of blowing snow and an increased chance of snow in the early afternoon are also projected.
Today should be partly sunny, with a high near 32 degrees. The wind chill will make it feel as low as -13, according to Pringle. Winds between 10 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph accompany the 30 percent chance of precipitation, but new snow accumulation of less than a half inch is possible, Pringle said.
Tonight, there’s a 20 percent chance of snow before 11 with mostly cloudy conditions and a low around 9 degrees, according to the NOAA seven-day forecast.
Monday’s forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of snow, mainly after 11 a.m. bringing similar cloudy conditions, with a high near 28 degrees and west-southwest winds at 6-11 mph, with gusts as high as 17 mph.
The highest chance of snow should come Monday night, Pringle said. On that day there’s a 50 percent chance of snow with total accumulation of up to 3 inches.
Christmas Day has a 30 percent chance of snow showers, mainly before 11 a.m. with 1-2 inches possible under mostly cloudy conditions and a high near 14 degrees.
“The next couple of days are going to have consistent cold temperatures and cloudy conditions,” Pringle said. “Everyone can expect to see snow, though not a huge storm is shaping up so far.”