Summit County sees 1st dusting of snow down in town |

Summit County sees 1st dusting of snow down in town

Expert says fall colors shouldn’t be affected by single frost

Frost is pictured at Loveland Ski Area on the morning of Monday, Sept. 20.
Dustin Schaefer/Loveland Ski Area

Summit County residents woke up to early signs of winter Monday, Sept. 20 — the season’s first dusting of snow to fall as low as Breckenridge.

Paul Schlatter, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Boulder, said snow fell in Summit County above 9,000 feet. He estimated that 1 to 3 inches of snow accumulated above treeline. Schlatter said the storm that brought the frost was not a strong weather system as it only rained slightly in lower elevations and there was no precipitation east of Summit County. The rain and snow was concentrated along the Continental Divide and Western Slope, including Steamboat Springs and Aspen.

But does this bit of snow mean the peak of fall colors is over? “Not necessarily,” Schlatter said.

“It looks like after this recent one, you shouldn’t get any more frost, and it doesn’t look too windy either,” Schlatter said. “So I think the colors are going to still be really good for Summit County the rest of the week into the weekend.”

In good years, Schlatter said the aspens can be in peak fall colors for about two weeks, which he said he expects this year as conditions have been ideal. Generally, Schlatter said a cool fall is ideal for brilliantly colored leaves, but freezing temperatures and high winds can quickly put an end to fall colors.

According to the U.S. National Arboretum, a wet spring followed by a dry and sunny autumn with cool but frost-free nights brings the most spectacular fall colors. Based on this description, Summit County has fallen into prime conditions for a fall of golden aspens, as March and June saw above-average precipitation and September has seen below-average precipitation, according to the National Weather Service almanac.

As the ski season approaches, Loveland Ski Area spokesperson Dustin Schaefer reported in an email Monday that the ski area is about 10 days away from turning on its snow guns to start making snow in preparation for the season.

Loveland is planning a mid-October to early November opening. Keystone Resort plans to open “as early as possible in October” while Arapahoe Basin Ski Area also plans to open in October. Breckenridge Ski Resort plans to open Nov. 12, and Copper Mountain Resort has set an opening date for Nov. 22.

While Monday brought an exciting change in weather, Schlatter said the rest of the week looks dry and warm.

“It’s looking pretty bleak, it looks dry after (Monday) afternoon,” Schlatter said about the outlook for snow. “(Tuesday, Sept. 21,) will be cool-ish like (Monday) in Summit County, but Wednesday, (Sept. 22), through the weekend, it should be back up above normal like it has been recently.”

Tuesday’s high temperature is forecast to be 63 degrees in Frisco, while high temperature forecasts range from 70 to 72 degrees from Wednesday through Sunday, Sept. 26.

The rest of the week’s dry and warm pattern may bring heightened fire danger. The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for northeast and north central Colorado. The outlook stated that fire danger may be elevated during the late-day periods from Wednesday through Saturday, Sept. 25.

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