Light storms on the way will offer little drought relief |

Light storms on the way will offer little drought relief

Snow clouds form over Frisco Main Street on Sunday, Jan. 24.
Photo by Taylor Sienkiewicz /

Summit County’s weather has had a theme so far this winter: light, quick-hitting storms that bring just a few inches of snow.

Zach Hiris, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Boulder, said this past weekend and upcoming week are no exception, although storm frequency is expected to ramp up this week with three rounds of snow. While the storms will help put a pause on the increasing drought conditions in the county, Hiris said much more precipitation would be needed to decrease drought severity.

Snow accumulation across much of the county from Thursday night through Sunday morning amounted to about 2 inches or less, Hiris said, with 2 inches of snow recorded Friday west of Silverthorne. The ski areas tallied a few more inches as Arapahoe Basin Ski Area announced via Twitter that they had 6 inches of new snow Friday.

Light snow will develop Sunday afternoon or evening, Hiris said, and will continue off and on in coming days.

“From (Sunday) afternoon through about Tuesday or so, we’re going to have another few rounds of this very light snowfall accumulation,” Hiris said. “It looks like maybe three separate rounds. … Each of those could produce about an inch or two of snow.”

Hiris said a round of light snow would occur Sunday afternoon and evening, along with similar storms Monday and Tuesday. Each of the three bouts of snowfall are expected to start in the late morning or early afternoon. Hiris said there won’t be much wind.

According to the National Weather Service’s forecast for Frisco, temperatures Monday and Tuesday will stay below freezing all day with a high of 29 degrees Monday and 23 degrees Tuesday.

Weather is expected to dry out and warm up Wednesday through Friday, Hiris said, with high temperatures in the 30s and 40s before another storm system moves in over the weekend. Winds are expected to pick up midweek on Wednesday and Thursday, but Hiris said it will simply be breezier than it has been this weekend and major gusts aren’t expected.

A map shows the state of the drought in Colorado.
Map from the U.S. Drought Monitor

Summit County continues to be enveloped in an extreme to exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Extreme and exceptional drought are the two most severe levels.

About half of the county is rated as being in exceptional drought conditions and the rest is designated as being in extreme drought. The highest severity of drought is concentrated in the northern portion of the county. The Drought Monitor lists large fires, extremely low reservoirs, increased water temperatures and worsening pasture conditions as long-term impacts of an extreme drought. For exceptional drought, the anticipated impacts include widespread dust storms, topsoil removal, and large agricultural and recreational economic losses.

Hiris said quick-hit storms like we’ll see this week will help keep the drought from worsening but won’t help bring the county to a less severe drought level.

“Until we get one of those really robust systems that drops a lot of snow, it’s just going to be the same thing for a while,” Hiris said. “So it’s not really going to get worse, but it’s definitely not going to get better anytime soon.”

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