Next winter blast could add 7 inches by Friday
Ryan Summerlin February 29, 2012
After a dry start, weather patterns are becoming more normal, forecasters say, as this season’s snow totals catch up to average and another Pacific storm system moves into Summit County today.
Local resorts have enjoyed several days and roughly a dozen inches of new snow this week, a pattern expected to continue through Saturday.
Forecasts are calling for 2-4 inches of snow Thursday and an additional 1-3 inches Thursday night, with precipitation likely to continue Friday and into the weekend.
“Friday looks like a pretty wintry day, and I think it will continue into Saturday,” National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Kyle Fredin said. “What we’ve been having is continuous trough after continuous Pacific trough coming across the central Rockies, bringing consistent snow conditions up there, which is pretty normal.”
“Normal” has finally become the forecasters’ buzzword for Summit County’s weather in recent weeks.
The storms, which have pounded Breckenridge with 2 feet of snow at the higher elevations so far his week, brought February’s snow totals up to a very normal 19 inches.
Snow totals across the region and the state are also on the rise. The Upper Colorado River Basin, which includes Summit County, has climbed to 80 percent of average, up from barely 60 percent a few weeks ago.
“Overall, the state so far is slightly below normal,” Fredin said. “But we sure have caught up from what we had in January. … The end of February was close to normal. Not quite there, but probably (a difference that is) unnoticeable to the average eye.”
Storms this week brought 19 inches of new snow to Copper Mountain, 7 inches to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Keystone Resort and 24 inches to Breckenridge Ski Resort.
“New snow is always great snow at Breck,” resort spokeswoman Austyn Williams said Wednesday. “Eleven inches in the past 24 hours, timing couldn’t be better as we head into March.”
The fresh powder has allowed Arapahoe Basin to open the Montezuma Bowl.
“(It) looks like ski season is in full swing,” spokeswoman Leigh Hierholzer said. “More snow and more terrain in the forecast!”
But the added snow continues to increase the risk of avalanches in the High Country. The danger rating is set to high on north, northeast, east and southeast slopes near treeline in the Summit County and Vail area. Natural avalanches are likely and human-triggered slides are very likely, according to forecasts from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
Weather and avalanche forecasts are available online at www.weather.gov and avalanche.state.co.us.