1st snow of the season dusts high peaks across Summit County | SummitDaily.com

1st snow of the season dusts high peaks across Summit County

A dusting of snow is pictured Friday, Aug. 20, on Buffalo Mountain. To see your photos featured in print or online, email submissions to share@summitdaily.com.
Photo by Rick Sellers

Summit County residents awoke Friday to views of a fresh dusting of snow above tree line on the area’s high-Alpine peaks.

“As expected, we saw snow across the mountains on Thursday night,” Open Snow founding meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote in his blog Friday. “Most of the snow fell at and above 10,000 feet, though there were some accumulations down to 9,500 feet in spots.”

The first snow came a few weeks earlier than usual, but summertime snow is not uncommon on high peaks in Summit County. In 2020, the first snow fell Sept. 8, and in 2019, the first flakes were spotted Sept. 12, according to local ski areas’ social media accounts. In 2019, it snowed in the valley on the summer solstice, meaning there were only three snow-free months that year.

Despite the early dusting, summertime isn’t over yet. Daytime highs are expected to remain in the 70s with lows in the upper 30s to low 40s, according to the National Weather Service seven-day forecast.

For those looking forward to winter, ski season is still about two months away, with Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Loveland Ski Area and Keystone Resort typically opening sometime in mid to late October, depending on conditions. Copper Mountain Resort and Breckenridge Ski Resort typically open in early November.

There’s no indication the moisture from Summit’s rainier-than-average summer will last into ski season.

The Climate Prediction Center’s long-range forecast for fall and winter calls for a La Nina pattern to potentially emerge in August to October and last through the 2021-22 winter, with a 70% chance of La Nina from November to January, according to an Aug. 12 report.

La Nina is affected by temperatures in the Pacific Ocean and causes the jet stream to push storms to the northern part of the country. El Nino, conversely, causes the jet stream to push storms toward the southern part of the country.

The Climate Prediction Center’s long-range forecast for the upcoming winter suggests higher than normal temperatures throughout the winter and below normal precipitation for at least the first half of the season. During the second half of winter, precipitation is predicted to return to normal levels, according to the forecast.

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