Heavy snow Wednesday could drop a much-needed 3-8 inches on Summit County ski areas
It’s been a dry start to February, with Summit County ski areas picking up no more than 10 inches of snow in the first 15 days of the month, but some fresh flakes are on the way.
Though only a one-day storm, Open Snow meteorologist Sam Collentine is calling for heavy snow from about 3-9 p.m. Wednesday.
“This storm is not a slam dunk due to the storm dropping most of the energy to our south and west, but we should still receive heavy snow on Wednesday,” Collentine wrote in his daily Interstate 70 forecast blog.
The deepest totals are expected just along and east of the Continental Divide, but Summit County resorts should still pick up 3-8 inches by the end of the day, according to Collentine.
With a firm base underneath, Collentine recommends first chair Thursday for the softest conditions but advised bundling up with temperatures expected to rise only into the low teens.
Following the storm, the overnight lows for the rest of the week are forecast in the single digits with daytime highs rising steadily from 25 on Thursday to 42 on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service forecast office in Boulder.
Down in the valley, the Dillon weather station has picked up 6 inches of snow this month compared with a historical normal of 9.3 inches by halfway through February.
The fresh snow and accompanying wind is likely to increase avalanche danger in the area, which is currently rated as moderate (2 out of 5), according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
Despite the moderate danger, one person was partially buried in a slide Sunday on Loveland Pass.
The man was carried an estimated 200 to 300 feet in avalanche debris, including being carried over an estimated 50-foot cliff. He was buried up to his waist and received only minor injuries, which the Summit County Rescue Group described as incredible.
Despite lackluster snowfall in late January and early February, the upper Colorado River basin — where Summit County is located — is sitting at 100% of normal snow-water equivalent as of Monday, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Snow-water equivalent is a measurement of the amount of water held in the snowpack.
Closer to home in the Blue River basin, the snowpack is sitting at 101% of the 30-year median but will have to start rising rapidly to keep pace with that mark into the spring.
Drought in Summit County also has improved dramatically since the fall, with the county now rated as abnormally dry or in a moderate drought. Only small portions of northwest and southern Colorado are listed as having extreme drought, and there is no exceptional drought — the most severe level — identified in the state, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The next chance for snow rolls into the area on Presidents Day.
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