Summit School District cancels classes as heavy snowfall is expected to continue
DILLON — Summit School District announced at about 6:30 a.m. Friday that school would be closed for the day because of weather.
School district spokeswoman Mikki Grebetz sent the following email:
“Due to the forecast of continued heavy snow and strong winds, and out of an abundance of caution for the safety of students, families, and staff, all Summit Schools are closed today, Friday, December 13, 2019.”
It’s the first snow day of the school year, and Grebetz said the district typically cancels classes for weather a couple of times each year. The last time Summit schools were closed for weather was March 7, when a series of avalanches shut down roadways and schools, caused power outages and delayed resort openings. School also was closed March 4 of the same week because of heavy snowfall.
And the snow isn’t expected to stop anytime soon.
Breckenridge looks like the big winner in terms of snowfall with as much as a foot in town and 13 inches up at the ski area. The storm easily bested the record snowfall for Dec. 13 in the town of Breckenridge: 5 inches that fell in 1992. The fresh snow Friday put Breckenridge Ski Resort over 100 inches for the season.
Summit County remains under a winter storm warning through 11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, with an additional 6-14 inches expected to fall in town.
24-hour snowfall totals measured at 5 a.m. Friday at midmountain:
• Arapahoe Basin Ski Area: 10″
• Breckenridge Ski Resort: 13″
• Copper Mountain Resort: 7″
• Keystone Resort: 6″
• Loveland Ski Area: 10″
• Vail Mountain: 10″
National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Hanson said Friday morning that the storm was “off to a good start.”
The snow is expected to taper off Friday before the next wave arrives Friday night and into Saturday.
“We’re really just expecting steady snowfall off and on again throughout the weekend,” he said.
The Weather Service is calling for total snow accumulations of about 9 inches in the Silverthorne area and 1 1/2 to 2 feet at the ski areas before the storm winds down Sunday afternoon.
Anyone who’s been outside Friday knows the storm rolled in with some strong winds.
“That’s the main thing that’s causing the snow — very strong jet-stream level winds,” Hanson said.
He is calling for 50-plus mph winds at high elevations and expects wind gusts to peak at 30 mph down in the towns.
“You’ll see some pretty strong winds, especially over higher mountain passes,” he said.
• Forecast and recent weather stories: summitdaily.com/news/weather.
• Storm warnings and advisories: wrh.noaa.gov
• Summit County ski area forecasts: opensnow.com/region/summitcounty
• Road conditions, closures and traffic cameras: cotrip.org.
• Travel information by phone: 511 (in Colorado) or 303-639-1111.
• Sign up for CDOT alerts: codot.gov/topcontent/travel-alerts-system/for-general-public.
• Avalanche danger and conditions: avalanche.state.co.us.
• Flight information: flightview.com/traveltools.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is warning drivers to be prepared for snow-packed and icy roads and blowing snow along the Interstate 70 mountain corridor.
“Motorists are urged to take it slow, leave a safe space behind the vehicle ahead, don’t pass plows and avoid driving during the height of a storm,” according to a CDOT news release.
The wind and fresh snow also brings increased avalanche danger, and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued an avalanche warning for Vail and Summit County through 8 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 15.
“Large human triggered avalanches are likely near and above treeline,” according to the warning. “If you trigger an avalanche it will break near the ground and will be large enough to bury or kill you.”
Avalanche danger is rated high (very dangerous) above and near tree line, and considerable (dangerous) below tree line, according to the avalanche forecasting site.
“We want them to go up there and enjoy Summit County, but we want them to stay out of trouble with the avalanches,” Hanson said about those who might be chasing powder this weekend.
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