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A few inches of new snow — maybe upwards of a half a foot — should fall over the weekend and into the middle of next week at Vail and Beaver Creek. That’s big news in a ski season that has been historically warm and dry so far at the midway mark.
With basically two and half months of snow riding remaining before both resorts close on Sunday, April 15, Vail thus far has received a scant 89 inches of total snowfall and Beaver Creek is slightly behind at 84 inches of total snowfall since opening in mid-November. Sometimes we see 100 inches by Christmas.
Those numbers should adjust upwards and inch closer to 100 inches of total snowfall with a series of storms moving through starting Friday night and lasting into next week, according to Opensnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz.
“Waves of moisture and energy will pass over the northern mountains through Wednesday, and the times of strongest energy could generate a few inches of snow for the mountains near and north of I-70,” Gratz wrote Friday morning. “A few inches are possible on Saturday morning, Saturday evening, and the best chance for some powder will be on Tuesday. After that, we will enter a dry pattern over the western US, but there is a chance for a rogue storm to bring some snow around February 10th.”
For some perspective on just how dry it’s been in the Vail Valley this winter, consider that both Vail and Beaver Creek receive around 350 inches of snowfall each ski season. And that’s an average season. So close to 30 feet of snow.
With about two and half months in the books — putting us basically at the midway point of the season — both resorts have only seen about seven feet of snow. That means we’ll need another 23 feet the last two and half months just to make this an average ski season.
The concern now has to be maintaining what base we have through closing day in April. Mountain operations crews have done an amazing job on both mountains, opening maximum terrain and minimizing the bare patches. But a prolonged warm and dry spell could mean serious trouble.
Luckily, the key Easter season is early this year, with Easter Sunday falling on April 1. So that means we just need to get some serious flakes and colder temps for the next couple of months and we’ll be fine. It would be nice of those flakes would fall in February to help with the month-long March spring break traffic.
Typically, March and April are two of the snowiest months, but in recent seasons March has been uncharacteristically dry. Last season, the snow spigot shut down in mid-February and there was very little snowfall throughout March. However, a much snowier December and January had positioned both resorts well for the duration of the season. This year there isn’t that accumulated base.
Of course, things can turn around in a hurry, and if the jet stream shifts to the south, breaking down the high pressure that’s been parked over Colorado most of the season, we could be in for a strong finish. Do whatever snow dances you know how to do. Wash your car frequently, and plan lots of trips to DIA.
That should do the trick. Meanwhile, enjoy the new snow over the weekend and into next week.