How much snow can each Summit County ski area expect? Forecasts make their best predictions. |

How much snow can each Summit County ski area expect? Forecasts make their best predictions.

An OpenSnow forecast shows potential snow totals for areas in Colorado as a storm is expected to cross the state Monday through Wednesday, Dec. 14.
OpenSnow/Courtesy image

As forecasts gain confidence in predicting where snow will fall across Colorado this week, Steamboat and Beaver Creek resorts are leading the way, but Summit County ski areas won’t miss out on powder days despite lower expectations. 

As the three-day storm rolls in, Summit County could see certain areas at high elevations rival snow totals forecast for Steamboat Springs, where 2 feet of snow is expected through Thursday, Dec. 15, according to a heat map issued by OpenSnow on Monday, Dec. 12, but resort-specific forecasts are keeping expectations tempered based on fluctuating wind directions associated with this storm. 

“Subtle changes in the wind direction between north-northwest, northwest and west-northwest can bring more or less snow to some mountains,” OpenSnow meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote in his report Monday. “However, with a general northwest flow for nearly 48 hours, even some hours of less-than-ideal wind directions shouldn’t take away from the forecast for ‘a lot of snow’ at areas favored by this storm setup.”

While snow totals currently favor Steamboat Resort with 29 inches, Vail Mountain with 16 inches, Beaver Creek Resort with 15 inches and Winter Park Resort with a foot, Summit County ski areas top out at 10 inches before nightfall Thursday, according to OpenSnow forecasts. 

As for the resort slopes inside and touching Summit County, Copper Mountain Resort is predicted to receive 10 inches and Loveland Ski Area is expected to get 9 inches, but Breckenridge Ski Resort, Keystone Resort and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area are all forecast to receive 6 inches of snow in the next five days. 

“This will be a fun week of snow throughout the state. Enjoy it,” Gratz said. “Early seasons are not often this good in terms of snow coverage and the number of powder days.”

His comments have been reiterated by ski area officials throughout the region, like Breckenridge Ski Resort’s ski patrol director, Hunter Mortensen, who said it’s been the best season for skiing and riding in a few years

The heat map currently shows that high-elevation areas in Summit County could see between 10-20 inches of snow before Friday, but Gratz says temperature, moisture and wind direction all have to align to bring about the high-end totals. 

“These numbers are impressive,” Gratz wrote in his report. “And even if these numbers are 30% to 50% too high, the snowfall totals would still be significant.”

National Weather Service reports track with OpenSnow forecasts. By Wednesday morning along Interstate 70, Vail Pass could see between 6-10 inches of accumulation, Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels could see 7-10 inches and Silverthorne could see between 3-6 inches, according to National Weather Service predictions.

This rendering shows potential snowfall totals for areas on the Interstate 70 corridor between Monday to Wednesday, Dec. 14.
National Weather Service/Courtesy image

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