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Dillon Reservoir expected to be full by July 7

DILLON — As temperatures continue to rise, snowmelt is expected to fill Dillon Reservoir by about July 7. As of Tuesday, the reservoir was 92% full with room for about 6 billion additional gallons of water before it reaches capacity. That amount would raise the water level about 6 feet, according to Snake River Water District district administrator Scott Price.

The seven-day average inflow to the reservoir is 2,034 cubic feet per second, and peak inflow is projected to be about 2,800 cfs, Price wrote in an email. Peak outflow is not expected to exceed 1,800 cfs, so there should not be any flooding along the Blue River.

Summer to make an appearance in Summit County this week with temps in the 70s after record-setting snowfall

DILLON — If you’ve lived in the Colorado Rockies long enough, you’ve probably seen snowflakes fluttering in the sky in every month of the year. June snow isn’t unheard of, but summertime accumulation is another thing.

“Having this much accumulation this late in the season isn’t normal,” National Weather Service meteorologist Erin Walter said. “It’s uncommon, but it does happen.”

The summer solstice started off mild in Dillon, where the high reached 66 on Friday before temperatures started to cool that evening and a storm system brought rain, hail and snow overnight.

Summit County residents woke to snow accumulating on the grass Saturday, when 1 inch was recorded in Dillon. Record snowfall for June 22 is 4 inches, which fell in 1947.

The 1 inch of snow that fell Sunday in Dillon set a record for the date. Low temperatures in the first three days of summer were about 10 degrees warmer than record lows for the dates, which fell in the low 20s.

While a few more flurries are possible above 11,000 feet, temperatures are forecast to reach into the 70s this week.

“We can expect a 10 degree increase (Monday), and then a couple degrees each day,” Walter said. “So we’re climbing back toward those normal temperatures and back toward summer conditions this week.”

By the numbers

Friday, June 21
• Low temperature: 33 (Record: 22 in 1924)
• Snowfall: 0 inches (Record: trace in 1957)

Saturday, June 22
• Low temperature: 32 (Record 23 in 1929)
• Snowfall: 1 inch (Record: 4 inches in 1947)

Sunday, June 23
• Low temperature: 29 (Record: 20 in 1916)
• Snowfall: 1 inch (Record: 1 inch in 2019)

June 2019
• Lowest temperature: 23 on June 10 (Normal: 32.7)
• Highest temperature: 70 on June 14 (Normal: 66.9)

Source: National Weather Service Dillon weather stations

During the warmup, afternoon winds could spike to 20 to 25 mph. With no major precipitation in the forecast, those windy days potentially could cause elevated fire weather mid to late this week, according to Walter.

Fire danger currently is low.

“June is typically one of the dryer months in western Colorado, then we start to see an uptick in moisture in July when we start to get the remnants of the monsoon,” Walter said.

Clouds hover above Breckenridge Ski Resort on Monday, June 24.
Hugh Carey / hcarey@summitdaily.com
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Rising rivers

Despite unseasonably cool temperatures, wet weather sent area streams to their likely peaks for the year.

Tenmile Creek’s year-to-date peak was 4.26 feet, or 969 cubic feet per second, at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The stream is expected to rise slightly to 4.33 feet later this week, according to a National Weather Service forecast. Minor flood stage for the creek is 5 feet, and the water has never gone above 5.14 feet, a high-water mark set June 17, 1995.

Straight Creek, which flows into the Blue River just below the dam, reached its likely peak of 5.24 feet, or 129 cfs, at 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 20.

Area streams “are going to receded a little bit and maybe come back up as we see warmer temperatures,” National Weather Service senior hydrologist Treste Huse said.

She called for “continued high flows for the next week — at least — because of the continued snowmelt.”

The Blue River is flowing at a steady 2.85 feet, or 1,000 cfs, which is controlled by the outflows of Dillon Reservoir. The reservoir is 92% full, with room for an additional 20,534 acre feet of water. An acre foot is enough to cover a football field about one foot deep.

Huse expects the Blue River will go higher as Denver Water works to regulate the water levels in the reservoir.

In terms of flooding risk, gradual warming this spring prevented area streams from overrunning their floodplains despite record snowpack.

“In Summit County, all of our rivers are flowing well below what we would consider flood stage,” Summit County emergency management director Brian Bovaird said. “Because the runoff has been so gradual, we are not anticipating any major problems at this point.”

Illinois Creek overflows under blue skies Monday, June 24, in Breckenridge.
Hugh Carey / hcarey@summitdaily.com
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Summit County starts summer with snow

It’s summer. It’s snowing.

To people who don’t live near the mountains, that might seem extraordinary. For those of us who do live at high elevation, summer snow is still a bit of a novelty, especially following a bone-dry, hot and fiery 2018.

But this year, mud season has supplanted wildfire season in June, with flooding a much more real concern as runoff hit its peak this week.

The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook and winter weather advisory for Summit County and much of the central Rockies from Friday night through Sunday morning. The outlook calls for periods of snow that will pose hazards to travel and outdoor activities as a high pressure zone sits above the Rockies through the weekend.

On Friday, the longest day of the year, scattered thunderstorms will move through the area with a 70% chance of precipitation. A low of 33–36 degrees overnight means real snow is not expected to fall below 10,000 feet, but there may be periods of flurries overnight, with little if any snow expected to stick by Saturday morning.

The storm system will move through the High Country on Saturday, with cold showers falling throughout the day into night. Snow may be seen in areas above 10,000 feet, with up to 10 inches projected for some areas.

However, for most of Summit, the white stuff should not be seen until temperatures start dropping in the evening. Daytime temperatures will bottom out in the 40s, meaning there should not be any significant snow accumulation below timberline.

Hazardous conditions will still exist on the roads, meaning anyone hoping to get another weekend of turns in at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is advised to plan ahead and be wary of slippery conditions and low visibility.

Showers will persist through Saturday into the night, when things should get interesting. A low in the high 20s or low 30s means some snowfall is likely, with about half an inch expected to fall by Sunday morning. Winds may be strong at times, and travelers are urged to exercise caution making their way through the I-70 corridor.

Snow will taper off and turn into showers for the rest of Sunday, with a chance of thunderstorms through the day. Don’t expect bluebird conditions, but there may be periods of sun blinking through the clouds in the late morning and afternoon. For the most part, though, the weekend will end cool and wet, consistent with conditions over the past month.

And that’s where the good news finally comes in. As the storm system moves out of the area, moisture isn’t expected to come back for at least a few days. That means Monday through Thursday is expected to be dry, sunny and absolutely perfect for summer activities in the High Country.

Meanwhile, Summit’s waterways have just about crested from the spring runoff, and flooding may have been narrowly avoided this season. Streamflows peaked Thursday and started dipping Friday in Tenmile Creek and the Snake River, two streams that appeared on the cusp of forcing community action to shore up the banks and roll out flood mitigation measures.

As far as standing bodies of water, Dillon Reservoir is right on track to get full by the 4th of July. The reservoir, currently at 90% capacity, has an inflow of 2,255 cubic feet per second of water with 919 cfs draining back into the Blue River. At an elevation of 9,008 feet, there’s less than 9 feet to go before the reservoir is full and both marinas in Dillon and Frisco launch boating season.

With Arapahoe Basin extending its season into the last weekend of June and possibly into the 4th of July, Summit County will be experiencing the best of both seasons by the time America celebrates its 243rd birthday. Residents should finally be able to say goodbye to this long winter and embrace a great summer after the storms pass this weekend.

Summit County will see mud season extend into another week, with snow and rain expected into next week

It’s the mud season that never ends. After plentiful snow this winter, above-average precipitation continues to fall in the High Country in the form of mixed sleet, snow and rain. Those of us waiting for sustained sunniness will, unfortunately, have to wait another week.

Saturday saw snow showers intermittently throughout the day, dampening the mountain mood but not the spirits of volunteers who showed up to clean up their neighborhoods during the county’s annual cleanup day. Visibility on highways Sunday night should be clear but it will be cold, with temperatures forecast to bottom out at 25 degrees.

Sunday is expected to be a bit drier, but still mostly cloudy and chilly with a high of 49 degrees. Thunderstorms are possible. There is an even chance of snow showers through the day and evening, with little to no snow accumulation likely. Sunday night will also see lows below freezing.

Monday will be a slog. The day is likely to have sustained periods of snow and sleet through the afternoon and evening, with highway travel possibly becoming hazardous. Strong winds are also expected.

As with any weather forecast in Colorado, beyond the next few days things are much more uncertain. The National Weather Service predicts a chance of snow showers Tuesday and throughout the rest of the week, with a glimmer of hope that at least a day or two should be sunny and clear.

The above-average precipitation is in line with the Climate Prediction Center’s forecast of above-average precipitation for the region for the next month. The precipitation has obliterated drought in Colorado, with no drought conditions left in the state and only 10% of the state experiencing “abnormally dry” conditions.

As much as the lingering muck is ruining camping and hiking plans up in the mountains, it is a far cry from the danger other Americans are facing. Up to 80 million people from the Great Lakes to Texas are currently under severe weather warnings as summer approaches.

It is peak tornado season in tornado alley, with several homes destroyed by a twister southwest of Oklahoma City on Saturday morning. Widespread damage was also reported in Abilene, Texas, after a tornado touched down in the middle of a residential neighborhood there.

While the sustained precipitation across the country has been a blessing for the drought-stricken region, it has also created massive amounts of flooding throughout the Great Plains. Iowa is expected to experience flooding again, mere weeks after historic flooding breached flood barriers, submerged entire farms and left people stranded for days or even weeks.

So while the moisture in Summit hasn’t been enjoyable, it is certainly better than another dry alternative, or the kind of extreme weather our neighbors are facing. The conditions have allowed Arapahoe Basin Ski Area to stay open an extra weekend, to June 9, with additional weekends possible if conditions continue to be favorable. Breckenridge is still slated to close on May 27, accumulating 440 inches through the winter — the third best winter in the resort’s history.

For another week, at least, skis are a safer bet for use than golf clubs.

Winter storm warning for Summit County, up to 16 inches expected

A winter storm warning has been issued for Summit County and surrounding areas beginning at noon today through 6 p.m. Thursday.

According to the National Weather Service, snow showers are expected to increase in the mountains this afternoon and continue through through Thursday.

Significant snow accumulations of between 8 to 16 inches are expected by Friday morning, with travel becoming more difficult overnight and into Thursday. The high today is 45 degrees with an overnight low of 22 degrees.

Amazing drone footage of enormous Peak 1 avalanche near Frisco

Local photographer Tripp Fay captured this amazing drone footage of the avalanche off Peak One on Thursday. The massive avalanche near the J Chute — just off of Rainbow Lake — tore through the landscape, stripping trees and leaving a gigantic white scar on the side of the peak.

Here's a closer look at the new avi chute on Peak One in Frisco!

Posted by Tripp Fay on Thursday, March 7, 2019

Substantial snowfall this week has led to historic avalanche conditions in the area.

Here’s a before and after view of the area from Sarah Porter Graham.

It’s not over yet: Another winter storm to bring 6 to 12 more inches to Summit County

A heavy winter storm overnight Wednesday and into Thursday caused Summit County to practically shut down. While the area saw a little relief by the end of the day and overnight as roads began to reopen, it’s not over yet. Another winter storm is on its way and should be moving into the county by this afternoon.

Summit County is again under a winter weather warning. According to the National Weather Service, another Pacific storm system will be moving over Colorado later today, bringing another round of snowfall to the northern and central mountains of Colorado. Snow is expected to begin falling by early afternoon and then continue overnight. It will also be possible that a few embedded thunderstorms may develop. Snowfall is expected to become moderate to heavy at times, with heavy snow most likely to hit Summit County this evening. Additional snowfall amounts of 6 to 12 inches are expected from this storm.

Gusty winds are expected to develop during the evening and overnight with gusts of 60 to 70 mph over the higher elevations. the increasing winds will cause poor visibility due to blowing and drifting snowfall.

Weather conditions will be best this morning, but will deteriorate later this afternoon and evening as snow begins to fall. Traveling into the mountains of central Colorado tonight should only be done if absolutely necessary, the National Weather Service alert warns.

This storm is the latest in a series of storms that has produced between 3 and 5 feet of new snow over the past week. Substantial snowfall led to historic avalanche conditions in Summit County, bringing extreme avalanche danger through much of the central mountains.

Numerous large avalanches have been occurring through the week, causing road closures at times. An avalanche hit Vail Pass at around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, dumping 6 feet of snow onto the roadway. At around 5 a.m. another avalanche between the water-treatment plant and Conoco gas-station complex near Copper Mountain ruptured a natural-gas line, closing off access to the area. At around 4 p.m., another giant avalanche hit CO 91 at mile marker 21, near Copper Mountain, spreading 15-foot-deep snow across 300 feet of roadway and trapping multiple cars

Tonight’s additional snowfall will keep avalanche danger in the high to extreme category through Saturday. Additional avalanches are expected over the next several days. The winter storm warning remains in effect from 2 p.m. this afternoon to 6 a.m. Saturday.

Snowstorm leads to dangerous avalanche conditions across Colorado high country

State avalanche control officials are warning people of extreme avalanche danger and urging them to stay away from backcountry slopes following a storm that dropped between 2 to 3 feet of snow.

“Backcountry avalanche conditions are very dangerous due to large amounts of snowfall and westerly winds,” according to a 7:03 a.m. tweet by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The CAIC issued a warning Monday against traveling in or below avalanche terrain.

“Triggering avalanches in wind-drifted snow is likely today. New snow makes older weak layers easy to trigger. Carefully evaluate terrain and snowpack before you travel on or below slopes steeper than 30 degrees,” the CAIC warns.

Read the full story on The Denver Post website, click here.

Vail firefighter suffers serious injuries trying to help during early morning crashes on I-70

EAGLE-VAIL —A Vail firefighter suffered serious injuries when he was struck after he climbed out of his car to lend a hand during Friday morning’s traffic accident along eastbound I-70.

The Vail firefighter’s name was not released until family had been notified, Vail Fire Chief Mark Novak said.

“He’s stable, but has been admitted to the hospital,” Novak said.

The firefighter was on his way to work when he came upon the accidents, Novak said. It appears he stopped to help when he was struck by another vehicle.

He suffered facial and head injuries, Novak said.

Two separate Friday morning accidents involved multiple vehicles as roads turned icy and snowpacked, said Trooper Tim Schaefer, public information officer with the Colorado State Patrol.

“We’re asking people to be cautious,” Schaefer said.

The first call came in at 6:42 a.m. from the local dispatchers. Eastbound I-70 was closed and traffic was diverted around the accidents, Schaefer said.

The CSP did not know how long the road would be closed. Vail Pass is also closed going eastbound on I-70 with no estimated time of reopening.

This story will be updated.

Winter storm could bring more than 2 feet of snow to Summit County by Sunday

The National Weather Service in Boulder is forecasting a major winter storm that will blanket areas of Colorado with multiple feet of snow by Sunday.

A winter storm warning is currently in effect for Summit County, forecasting possible snow accumulations between 15 to 30 inches with isolated amounts up to 40 inches by late Saturday night. Winds gusting up to 45 mph at times will produce areas of blowing snow and poor visibilities.

The high today is 37 degrees with an overnight low of 23 degrees.

The latest road conditions for Colorado can be obtained by calling 511 or visiting http://www.cotrip.org.

OpenSnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz said for the best powder on the ski slopes, “snow conditions will get deeper and softer with time, so Saturday should be soft and maybe deep by midday or afternoon, and Sunday morning should be the softest and deepest. Powder is possible on Monday as well though I have low confidence.”