Summit County ski areas record a combined 200 inches of snow in March
March is typically the snowiest month in the state of Colorado, and this year, Summit County ski areas are recording over 200 inches combined.
According to OpenSnow, Breckenridge Ski Resort topped all of the ski areas, finishing with 49 inches over the course of March. Copper Mountain Resort saw 44 inches, and Loveland Ski Area followed closely behind with 43 inches. Keystone Resort recorded 40, with most of it falling during peak spring break weeks. Arapahoe Basin Ski Area totaled at 34.75 inches — the lowest at all of the local ski areas, and almost a third of its monthly total coming in since Wednesday, March 30.
All of the ski areas saw higher March snowfall in 2021. This week will have snow showers off and on, and temperatures early this week should stay in the teens and 20s, according to OpenSnow meteorologist Joel Gratz.
“The next storm will bring snow from Monday night through Wednesday morning, with the most intense snow falling on Tuesday morning and midday,” Gratz wrote in his forecast on Sunday morning, April 3. “While snowfall could be in the 2- to over 5-inch range with some powder on Tuesday, the big story will be very strong winds on Monday night and Tuesday which could force some lifts to not open during the day on Tuesday. For this reason, I’d also look at Wednesday as a day to find some powder stashes that might not have been touched on Tuesday.”
Currently, Summit County’s avalanche rating is at “moderate,” or a 2 on a scale of 5, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Warmer weather can create weaker layers in snow even if fresh, colder snow is piled on top of it. Backcountry recreationists should be careful on slopes facing the north — especially above the tree line. On Saturday, April 2, a group of three skiers triggered and escaped from an avalanche on the Marjorie Bowl in Summit County. According to the center’s report, Arapahoe Basin ski patrol responded to the scene. This slope has avalanched two times earlier this season, but currently is “not very representative of many backcountry features nearby,” the report states.
“This new snow has added a new layer to our very complicated snowpack,” Brian Lazar, deputy director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, said in the center’s weekly avalanche forecast for this upcoming week. “This is going to add fuel for these storm snow instabilities. What’s most worrisome are any avalanches in the storm snow that can then step down into those weak layers buried about 2 to 4 feet deep — particularly on those northerly facing slopes.”
Snowpack for the Blue River remains behind its 30-year median. As of Sunday, the river had a snow-water equivalent rate of 14.2 inches, whereas the median is 15.4. The most recent data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service Colorado shows that snowpack has hovered in the 90% to 100% range, dipping slightly during drier parts of March. The Blue River is still 86% of the median peak, which is set to crest at the end of this month. Nevertheless, the area’s snowpack levels are doing considerably better than last year’s. The basin had hit its highest peak at 13.5 inches at this point in 2021. Denver Water is also reporting that levels in Dillon Reservoir have not changed, staying at 78% full.
Discharge for the Blue River has increased over the past several days, as well. The average discharge for the river on April 3 is 104 cubic feet per second, and Sunday’s most recent value had the river’s level at 95 cubic feet per second. Just last week, the river was only discharging at 77 cubic feet per second, significantly behind the average for this time of the year.
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