Summit County: December snowfall trumps average accumulation |

Summit County: December snowfall trumps average accumulation

Caddie Nath
summit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

Summit County got the white Christmas many snowsports enthusiasts had been pulling for, rounding off a December that exceeded average snowfall accumulations.

“Conditions could have been much worse if we had not received the moisture we did in December,” conservationist Phyllis Ann Phillipps stated in a recent release.

Statewide snowpack piled up to 112 percent of average in December, but it wasn’t enough. Snowpack in the Colorado River Basin is 68 percent of average, and statewide, snow accumulations are still behind last year’s readings, according to data from the National Resources Conservation Service.

Experts say the winter season has been dominated by high-pressure systems and an uncooperative jet stream that left Colorado in a dry spell through much of November.

Storm patterns changed in early December, with a few productive storms elevating the snowpack from just 36 percent of average on Dec. 1.

But the bluebird skies returned after the new year, and weather watchers speculate it could be the end of the week before Summit County gets another dose of powder.

A storm is on track to move inland off the Pacific coast on Thursday and reach Colorado by Friday or Saturday.

“Right now there are several options available for this particular storm,” NWS meteorologist Dave Barjenbruch said. “For Summit County, things are looking definitely like we’re going to see a pretty good chance of light snowfall.”

But forecasters expect frigid temperatures, rather than snow to be the defining feature of the upcoming system for the north-central Rockies. The mercury, which settled comfortably in the mid-30s throughout the week is expected to plunge into the single digits during the day through the weekend and well below zero at night, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder.

“It could be a rather extended cold snap, with those very cold temperatures from Saturday through maybe the first half of next week,” Barjenbruch said.

Snow accumulations are expected to be modest through next weekend’s maybe-storm, with forecasters calling for a few inches on the slopes and an inch or two in the towns.

Colorado’s depleted reservoirs and streams depend on a healthy snow season this year. Statewide reservoir storage was 68 percent of average and 38 percent of capacity at the end of December, according to the NRCS.

March and April are usually the snowiest months of the year for Summit County.

While forecasters are only mildly optimistic for new snow this week, locals will be pushing hard for some fresh powder during the 50th annual Ullr Fest, a weeklong tribute to the Norse god of snow that continues today.

The off-beat Breckenridge celebration is marked by a week of unusual events and a temporary trend of horned Viking hats on the slopes. Tonight, the festivities continue with a family night of Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and bonfire at the Gold Run Nordic Center on Tiger Road.

Additional information about Ullr Fest is available online at

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