Summit County shovels out again
Ryan Summerlin April 24, 2013
Another series of spring storms plowed into Summit County over the last several days, dropping more than a foot of new snow since Sunday and 7-10 inches at the lower elevations Monday night.
It was a late break of winter weather seen across the state, with roughly 3 feet of April snow following a comparatively dry ski season.
Breckenridge has now received 34 inches of new snow this month in the valleys, well above the 16 inches that accumulated in April of last year and even trumping the 30-year average of 27 inches for the month, according to National Weather Service data.
Arapahoe Basin and several locals reported that as much as 13 inches of snow fell Monday night alone.
“It just keeps coming,” Breckenridge Mayor John Warner posted on his Facebook account Tuesday morning along with a picture of the 10 inches that appeared in his backyard overnight.
Experts say the continuing wet weather may finally be making a difference to the persistent drought conditions in Colorado.
Officials with the U.S. Drought Monitor are discussing downgrading the “severe” drought ratings in Summit County, along the Continental Divide and north of Boulder.
“Conditions are improving,” National Weather Service hydrologist Triste Huse said.
But weather watchers say there is something that looks like spring on the horizon.
Short-term forecasts call for temperatures to climb into the 50s this weekend after a few more flurries on Thursday, and experts say there’s sunshine in the eight-to-14 day outlook as well.
“Friday and the weekend look pretty mild. We’ll probably see some spring finally this weekend,” National Weather Service meteorologist Bernie Meier said. “It looks like we are going to get warmer and drier than we have seen, although it can’t really go the other way.”
A few days after two fatal slides killed a total of six people on the passes around Summit County, the avalanche danger rating remained stable following Monday night’s storms.
The danger was considerable on all north- and east-facing slopes near and above treeline Tuesday and forecasters were warning that the most recent storm brought winds of “just about the perfect speed for drifting the recent snow into fresh wind slabs from 1-3 feet thick,” Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster Scott Toepfer wrote in Tuesday’s update.
The additional weight will continue to add stress to a deep, persistent weak layer at the base of the snowpack, which is believed to be responsible for both of the fatal avalanches in the area last week.
Late-season snowstorms earlier this month prompted Breckenridge Ski Resort and Copper Mountain Resort to reopen briefly last Friday through Sunday after what was supposed to be an end to both facilities’ seasons on April 14.
Updated weather and avalanche forecasts are available online at www.weather.gov and at www.avalanche.state.co.us respectively.