Not much snow on the horizon for Summit as La Nina weather pattern continues |

Not much snow on the horizon for Summit as La Nina weather pattern continues

January snowfall was moderate, but low temps allowed it to stick around

Stella, 5, left, and Greta Starmann, 3, tube Jan. 15 at Carter Park in Breckenridge.
Elaine Collins/Courtesy photo

After picking up nearly 3 feet of snow from Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day, the snow machine seems to have shut off — other than a double-digit powder day Jan. 6.

Resorts across Summit County tallied one of their lowest snowfall totals for the month of January in the past seven years, with Keystone Resort picking up 32 inches, Loveland Ski Area getting 35 inches, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area tallying 38.5 inches, Copper Mountain Resort reporting 40 inches, and Breckenridge Ski Resort leading the way with 47 inches.

Despite low to moderate snowfall, resorts largely were able to maintain their base depths throughout the month thanks to consistently low temperatures.

The weather station in Dillon reported an average high temperature of 28.8 degrees and low temperature of 0.3 degrees throughout the month, both of which are lower than the historical normals for January, according to the National Weather Service almanac.

A high temperature of 45 degrees on Jan. 8 was the outlier with all other highs peaking in the mid-30s or lower.

With little to no additional base depth, the resorts still continued to open terrain throughout the month. Breckenridge is leading the way at 99% open, Copper is 95% open, Keystone is at 89%, A-Basin is at 84% and Loveland is at 79%.

Across resorts, trails yet to open primarily consist of black and double black terrain that simply needs more snow.

The resorts all picked up some fresh snow Wednesday, with 4 inches at Breckenridge and Copper, 3.5 inches at Loveland, and 3 inches at A-Basin and Keystone. Another 1-3 inches was expected to fall Wednesday for the Thursday morning report.

Frigid temperatures are forecast Thursday with a high of 18 and low of minus 10, according to the weather service. Daytime highs will warm up into the low 30s Friday and Saturday, but overnight lows will remain chilly in the low single digits.

Low temperatures have also maintained the snowpack in the Colorado Rockies, with river basins in the mountain regions and Western Slope above 100%, some only slightly. The upper Colorado River basin, where Summit County is located, is at 112% of normal. That’s beat out only by the Laramie and North Platte river basins at 115% and the Gunnison River basin at 117% of normal, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Closer to home, the snow-water equivalent — or the amount of water held in the snowpack — is at 103% of normal at Copper Mountain with 8.9 inches of water. Hoosier Pass is at 95% of normal with 8.6 inches of water.

Down in the valley, the Dillon weather station picked up 18 inches of snow in January compared with the historical normal of 17.7 inches in records dating back to 1893.

According to the Climate Prediction Center, the La Nina weather pattern — which traditionally favors far northwest Colorado — is expected to continue through the remainder of ski season.

For Summit County, that means a slightly below average chance of precipitation and a slightly above average chance of higher than normal temperatures.

After some slight chances for snow next week, the long-term forecast doesn’t snow much opportunity for storms, according to Open Snow meteorologist Sam Collentine.

“I just really don’t see a big shift in the weather pattern across the Western U.S. that we need to bring stronger storms into Colorado,“ Collentine wrote in his daily Interstate 70 blog.

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