Back-to-back days of snow expected in Summit County for nearly a week — aiding local ski area’s efforts to open last of remaining inbound terrain

The strong snowstorm expected Wednesday and slightly weaker one likely to follow Sunday come after Arapahoe Basin began limited openings of East Wall this past weekend.

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area began limited openings of hike-out portions of the East Wall on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, and lower areas earlier in the week. Snow expected in the coming days could help fill in the rocky terrain, which is the last inbounds area yet to fully open in Summit County.
Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News

Forecasters are predicting a jam-packed week with wintry weather that will bring fresh powder to Summit County ski resorts — and help fill in the highest peaks at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, where limited openings of East Wall began this past weekend.

Heavy waves of snow will begin to pass through the county Wednesday afternoon, bringing an estimated 5-10 inches by morning, according to National Weather Service forecaster Russell Danielson.

“With the exception of Saturday, there is pretty much a chance of snow every single day the next seven days,” Danielson said Tuesday, “especially in the mountain peaks.”

Higher elevations near the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels are expected to receive the brunt of the midweek storm, Danielson said, while less snow accumulation will be observed at lower elevations near Dillon and Silverthorne.

Winds may gust as high as 60 miles per hour, making for potential whiteout conditions that could complicate travel Wednesday afternoon and evening, he said, adding that snow showers will continue into Thursday, with the possibility of a couple more inches of snow.

Low temperatures and high wind Thursday morning could make for chilly conditions, with a wind chill as low as -25 degrees, Danielson added. Light snow may continue into Friday morning, he said, but likely not enough to impact travel.

“It’s not necessarily the biggest storm you’ll have this year,” Danielson said. “But there will be some pretty good snow amounts.”

With the storm likely bringing an east wind with it Wednesday, meteorologist and founder Joel Gratz said in a blog post that that wind “*might* generate ‘extra’ snowfall on the eastern edge of Summit County.” He predicted slightly higher snow totals, from 6-12 inches, for the county.

A map from showing expected snow totals for Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023.
Joel Gratz/Courtesy photo

And, snow through the rest of this week is not all mountainous areas throughout Colorado can expect, according to Gratz, “the atmosphere is in ‘go mode’ and more storms are in the forecast,” he wrote, predicting another storm beginning Sunday.

Danielson agreed, noting that after dry Saturday, another 2-5 inches of snow accumulation throughout parts of Summit County can be expected from Sunday into early next week.

While other ski resorts have already been operating with 100% of their terrain open, all that snow will be especially welcome news at Arapahoe Basin since the ski area opened parts of East Wall for several hours on Saturday and Sunday. The extreme hike-out ridgeline is the only inbound terrain in Summit County that has yet to fully open this year.

Under blue skies this past weekend, Arapahoe Basin began allowing limited access to a few of the hiking routes on East Wall, according to Katherine Fuller, a spokesperson for the ski area. This follows the typical process for opening that rocky section of high-alpine terrain, she said, with ski patrol allowing limited access and directed skiing to help compact the snow. 

“‘East Wall Season’ is upon us,” Fuller said in an email. “It’s super exciting for all of us — but The East Wall is neither fully nor permanently open just yet.”

The view from the top of East Wall at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023. The rocky hike-out terrain had limited openings over the weekend.
Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News

She described the conditions on the East Wall as “extra-spicy right now” and noted only experts should be accessing the terrain during its limited openings. 

“We can’t say for sure when the hiking terrain will open again,” Fuller said. “But, if this week’s coming snow forecast pans out, it could be very good for the wall.”

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