3 snowstorms this week might prop up sagging snowpack levels at Summit County ski resorts
Copper Mountain Resort is the only resort in Summit County reporting above average snowpack on its slopes, according to OpenSnow data, but two storms that will pass through this week might help ski areas catch up.
With a base depth of 25 inches, Copper is at 105% of its average total this time of year. Though Summit’s other resorts are reporting larger totals for base depths, they have fallen behind their average depth in recent weeks, according to OpenSnow.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is reporting the thickest base at 20 inches, which is about 92% of its average, while Breckenridge Ski Resort is reporting 19 inches and 84%, Loveland Ski Area is reporting 18 inches and 92%, and Keystone Resort is reporting 18 inches and 89%.
As of Monday, Nov. 28, Loveland has 11% of its terrain open, Arapahoe has 3% open, Keystone has 12% open, Breckenridge has 11% open and Copper has 14% open.
Joel Gratz at OpenSnow said the storms this week should bring good skiing and riding conditions to the mountains.
“The best powder will likely be during the first half of the day on Tuesday as 50% to 70% of the storm’s snowfall should fall by Tuesday morning with a lot of the rest of the snow falling by Tuesday midday,” Gratz explained in his report.
Between 4 to 12 inches of powder are expected to greet Summit County residents Tuesday morning, and another snowstorm is on its way, according to National Weather Service reports.
“This system that’s coming tonight is looking to be the bigger system of the week, but it’s hard to say with confidence that the Friday system will bring tons of snow,” Caitlyn Mensch said Monday. “At this time, it doesn’t look like it will bring large amounts.”
Breckenridge is expected to see the smallest snow totals — 4 to 6 inches — while the rest of the county could receive anywhere in the 4- to 12-inch range, according to a map issued at 4:30 a.m. on Monday. The valley will reportedly see snow totals top out at 7 inches.
Summit County will remain under a winter weather advisory until the storm system moves out of the area around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, according to National Weather Service reports. The storm will bring wind gusts as strong as 35 mph in the valley and up to 45 mph on mountain passes and areas above 9,000 feet in elevation. Meteorologists say roads will be slick until Tuesday afternoon.
“I would say during those overnight hours — especially around 11 p.m. — it’s going to be pretty tough travel,” Mensch said. “We actually have a cold front that is coming through which might bring some wind with it too. … The morning commute is going to be pretty difficult, too, especially with them plowing the roads.”
The snow is expected to stop sometime in the afternoon Tuesday.
Early December storms
Wednesday and Thursday should be dry, according to both National Weather Service and OpenSnow reports, but a system moving into the region on Friday could boost snow totals further.
Mensch said National Weather Service models are calling for chances of “light snow” Friday, but OpenSnow forecasters expect the storm to be more significant.
“The brunt of the snow from this storm could stay to our west, but we should still see decent accumulations with powder possible during the day on Friday and/or Saturday morning,” Gratz wrote. “The snow quality could be thicker due to warmer temperatures and fast winds.”
The snowmaking conditions don’t stop there. Gratz says another storm could roll into Colorado from Sunday and create possibilities for more snow through Tuesday, Dec. 6.
“It’ll be a few more days until we can figure out the details of this system, though I think there is a pretty good chance for powder during at least one of these days,” Gratz wagered.
Though confidence remains low beyond those predictions, another period from Dec. 8-10 is showing hints that “storminess” could set up along the West Coast, which would be good news for Summit County’s snowpack.
Gratz said that system could bring some snow across the Rocky Mountains every few days, or it could end up dry.
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