Some Summit County ski areas could see around half-a-foot or more of snow this week
Weather reports predict as much as 8 inches of powdery snowfall by Wednesday
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the precipitation ratio for dry and wet snow.
Summit County ski resorts could see a half-a-foot or more of dryer, powdery snowfall this week thanks to two back-to-back storms beginning Monday and lasting into Wednesday night.
National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Kalina said the first system will mostly track “across the four corners and to the north” of Colorado, bringing likely 1 to 2 inches of snow into Tuesday. But a second storm set to hit directly after will likely bring snow totals to as much as 12 inches for the county’s highest elevation areas, Kalina said, with between 6 and 8 inches for most ski resorts.
“Looks like the snow should be somewhat on the drier side,” Kalina said, adding the snow to precipitation ratio will likely be around 15 to 1 — meaning every 15 inches of snowfall will bring 1 inch of precipitation. “It’s pretty good skiing snow.”
For context, snow considered to be more dry would have a roughly 30 to 1 ratio, while wet snow would be closer to 10 to 1, Kalina said.
Temperatures are also expected to drop significantly mid-week, going from a high of 38 degrees on Monday to a daily average of 13 degrees on Wednesday. Kalina said the week will warm up again by Friday with an expected daily temperature hovering around 30 degrees.
In a Feb. 13 OpenSnow report, meteorologist Joe Gratz wrote: “On Tuesday, there could be morning powder from the storm on Monday night, then we might see a bit of a lull in the snow in the morning, then snow could ramp up again during the midday and afternoon hours.”
By Tuesday night, Gratz continued, snow should be “steady to intense across the southern and central mountains and maybe as far north as about I-70.”
By Wednesday, snow should “transition to areas near and east of the (Continental Divide) from near and south of I-70 as the wind direction blows from the east and northeast,” Gratz wrote, adding, “on Wednesday night, the snow will wind down with maybe light accumulations after sunset.”
According to OpenSnow’s weekly forecast, Breckenridge Ski Resort could see the most snow by Wednesday with 8 inches followed by Copper Mountain Resort and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area with 7 inches and then Keystone Resort with 5 inches.
The incoming storms could also bump up the area’s snowpack levels which — despite remaining above average — saw a slight decrease since the beginning of February.
On Feb. 1, snowpack levels for the Blue River Basin — which includes all of Summit County — was 117% of the 30-year-median, according to data from the federal Natural Resource and Conservation Service. As of Feb. 13, levels were at 112%.
Kalina said the decrease is normal and could be due to a somewhat dry period that lasted for the past several days, adding this week’s weather “should at least maintain it or bring it up slightly.”
“We haven’t seen a whole lot of snow lately, it’s pretty normal to see it dip,” Kalina said.
Snow totals have consistently remained above average this season, with regular storms and high-precipitation snow leading to a better-than-expected January for the county that was packed with several surprise powder days for ski areas.
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