After a legit foot of fresh snow provided for a rare mid-week powder day earlier in the week, Vail and Beaver Creek are once again in the crosshairs of another major winter storm this weekend.
That should make for increasingly stellar ski conditions throughout the day on Saturday and then again on Sunday morning. It will also make for some dicey driving conditions along Interstate 70 and throughout the mountains, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
CDOT sent out this alert Saturday morning: “The National Weather Service forecasts widespread snow to develop this morning on the I-70 Mountain Corridor and continue into late afternoon. Periods of heavy snow are expected to occur all day Saturday. Expect mountain roads to become snow covered and slippery with Traction and Chain Laws in effect by early morning and those conditions to last through Saturday night. Safety closures are possible, expect slower speeds with extended travel times.”
The heavy snow started in Steamboat Springs at 5 a.m. and was falling heavily in EagleVail at 7:20 a.m., with the storm moving steadily south throughout the day, according to Opensnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz.
“The forecast is looking good for most mountains to have a great powder day on Saturday with snow throughout the day, and additional accumulations on Saturday evening, especially in the southern mountains. Average snow amounts will be in the 5-10 inch range with a few spots reporting 10-15 inches by Saturday midnight,” Gratz reported Saturday morning.
Gratz is also calling for possible additional snowfall throughout next week.
“Enjoy the pow this weekend! The next chance for snow will target the southern mountains late Monday through Tuesday (lighter amounts elsewhere) and more snow is possible later next week,” Gratz wrote.
Vail and Beaver Creek are still well below average for the season, but conditions have steadily improved with increased snowfall beginning in January after a very dry November and December.
Anyone considering a back-country adventure to scratch that powder-skiing itch should make a very good plan, inform as many people as possible, check conditions with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and generally proceed with extreme caution.
Even a quick side-country trip can quickly turn tragic, as we discovered earlier this week at Vail with the death of snowboard instructor Sam Failla.
So think twice and make sure you have the right equipment and plan before heading out any back-country access gates, and never leave the ski area by cutting rope. Above all, let someone who isn’t going with you know exactly what your plan is and when you plan to return.