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February snowfall near average in Summit County

Temps run well below normal at Dillon weather station


A satellite photo from the NASA Earth Observatory collection shows extensive snow cover prevailed across parts of Colorado after storms in late January and early February. Click here to learn more about this image.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Temperatures in at least parts of Summit County ran well below average in February, while snowfall totals were near average for the month at the two official National Weather Service reporting sites in Breckenridge and Dillon.

In Breckenridge, long-time weather observer Rick Bly said he tallied 25.4 inches of snow for the month. The long-term average is 23.5 inches. The snow-water equivalent was also slightly above average, at 1.88 inches compared to 1.71 inches.

The snowfall, combined with cool temperatures, helped maintain the snowpack but didn’t make much of a dent in the seasonal deficit. For the year to-date (starting Oct. 1), snowfall is still about 30 percent below average, at 69,5 inches. The average, based on records going back to the late 1800s, is 101.5 inches. Continue reading

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Colorado: Weekend snowstorm delivers

Mountains could see a few more inches Tuesday night

Northeast winds delivered good snow to Colorado's northeastern plains.

Northeast winds delivered good snow to Colorado’s northeastern plains.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A storm rolling across the state Saturday night delivered the goods, with every ski area in Colorado reporting new snow Sunday morning. Totals (24 hour) ranged from 11 inches at Monarch to six inches and Wolf Creek and Steamboat, at opposite ends of the state. Most resorts in between also reported about a half a foot of new snow Sunday morning. Continue reading

Colorado: Snowpack creeping up, still trailing 2012

Northwest, Southwest mountains seeing some drought relief


None of the state’s river basins has an average snowpack as of Feb. 15.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado’s snowpack is making a mini-comeback, with February snowfall running close to normal across the mountains, piling up at an average rate of 1 to 2 inches per day.

With another storm set to roll into the Rockies the second part of the week, some SNOTEL sites in the southwestern mountains could reach close to average for the first time this winter. But for now, the statewide snowpack is tracking behind last winter, at 75 percent of average as of Feb. 15.

The southwest corner of the state is reporting the highest readings, with the combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan reading at 89 percent of average, the Upper Rio Grande and 79 percent and the Gunnison Basin at 76 percent. Continue reading

Colorado: Dry January worsens drought woes


Bare ground above 9,000 feet in early February is not good news for Colorado’s water situation.

Statewide snowpack 30 percent below seasonal average

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Despite some late-January storms, snowpack in the Colorado River Basin continues to lag behind last year and is 30 percent below average for this time of year, according to the latest tally from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Colorado’s southwestern mountains benefited the most from the January precipitation, with snowpack in the combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins climbing to 88 percent of normal; up from 70 percent of normal measured on January 1. Continue reading

Ullr: The comeback kid!


A snowboarder enjoys freshies at Copper Mountain in Summit County, Colorado. Photo courtesy Copper Mountain Resort/Tripp Fay.

Winter storm warnings from Tuesday through Thursday in Colorado; avalanche danger to peak in the mountains

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Snow piled up in a big way at some Colorado ski areas and more is on the way. National Weather Service forecasters are tracking a moist flow off the Pacific that favors the northwestern mountains. Much of the state’s high country is under a winter storm warning, from Steamboat down through Fairplay.

The warning is in effect from 5 p.m. Tuesday to 5 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 31) and covers parts of the I-70 corridor. Snow and blowing snow will hinder traffic over the high passes in the region. Snow is expected to continue through Thursday with periods of heavy snow and strong winds.

The snow is a huge relief for ski areas and water managers. Already, some resorts have picked up multiple feet of snow. According to Colorado Ski Country, Silverton Mountain in the San Juans reported 78 inches of snow in the past few days, about double of the 36 inches reported at Wolf Creek.

Along the I-70 corridor, Copper reported a 6-inch storm total and declared a Snow Day for a special breed of passholders who can ski anytime there’s 4 inches or more of snow under the terms of a $99 season-long Snow Say pass. Continue reading

Morning photo: Got the low-snow blues?

Try kite-boarding, ice climbing or snow sculpting!


Ice sailing on Dillon Reservoir, Dec. 2011.

FRISCO —With this season’s mid-winter ski conditions even lagging behind last year, It might not be surprising that all but the most diehard skiers are starting to question themselves. One drought year is to be expected, but two snow droughts in a row just isn’t fair. But since we have to play the hand we’re dealt, there are other ways to have fun in the winter. Continue reading

Morning photo: Feels like April

No good news from Colorado water powwow


A stream flow gage along Straight Creek, in Dillon, Colorado.

FRISCO —A January thaw has raised stream flows in the Colorado high country close to normal — but only because the warm temperatures are resulting in unseasonable runoff. All in all, Colorado could be facing one of the driest periods on record barring a miraculous turnaround in spring precipitation. And that’s not unheard of. A snowstorm that started March 17, 2003 dumped more than seven feet of snow on parts of the Front Range and Continental Divide and helping to end the early 2000s drought. Will it happen again? Nobody knows, because those types of one-shot weather events are unpredictable. But water managers say that even record-breaking spring snowfalls might not bring the state snowpack back to average. Continue reading

Colorado: Incoming storm may blast high country

Significant snow expected Friday into Saturday


A developing storm in the Gulf of Alaska should bring some snow to Colorado by Friday.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —After a mercifully short January thaw, forecasters say winter conditions could return to western Colorado by the end of the week, with significant snow possible Friday into Saturday, and the chance of on and off snow into the early part of next week.

The Grand Junction National Weather Service office has already hoisted a winter storm watch for the mountains of northeastern Utah, and forecasters will likely expand notices of advancing winter weather to western Colorado in the next few days.

A trough of low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to drop into the Great Basin by Thursday, then move across the Colorado high country during the day Friday, with all ingredients in place for at least a period of moderate to heavy snowfall. Early forecasts are hinting at the possibility of 5 to 10 inches of snow for the Summit County area, with more possible in some favored areas. Continue reading

Winter storm winding up across Colorado

Avalanche incidents on the rise in the backcountry


A winter storm swirls across Colorado.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A slow-moving winter storm crossing Colorado Wednesday night through Thursday could deliver several more inches of snow to soften up the slopes for the incoming wave of holiday skiers.

The National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories for most of the western Colorado mountains, where 3 to 10 inches of snow could pile up by late Thursday night. Snow started falling in the southern mountains Wednesday morning under a southwest flow, but most ski areas only reported a trace as of Wednesday evening, with the exception of Silverton Mountain which reported 8 inches (36-inch base) in the afternoon snow report from Colorado Ski Country USA.

The heaviest snow in the central and northern mountains is expected after midnight. Winds from the west and northwest could bring 2 to 5 inches of snow to favored west-facing slopes. Light to moderate snow could continue into Thursday night before tapering off as high pressure builds into the region, bringing cold temperatures for late in the week and the first part of the weekend. Continue reading

Colorado: Backcountry avalanche danger reaches red zone

Natural avalanche cycle expected; triggered slides likely


Backcountry avalanches have been reported from the Vail Pass area.


High avalanche danger in parts of the high country, Click on the map for the interactive version on the CAIC website.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued an avalanche watch for parts of the high country, from the Steamboat/Flattops zone down through the Grand Mesa and the Aspen/Gunnison area, where dangerous avalanche conditions prevail.

Forecasters expect to see a natural cycle of small to mediu, slides during the next 24 hours, and triggered avalanches are likely in many backcountry areas. Any paths that don’t slide naturally could be prone to large avalanches in the coming days, CAIC forecaster Scott Toepfer wrote in the Tuesday morning update.

Snowfall rates in some mountain areas could reach 2 inches per hour, leading to rapid additional loading on top of a weak base layer — an ideal recipe for dangerous snow slides. Fresh storm slabs will be easily triggered by backcountry travelers, and winds will lead to the formation of brittle wind slaps on lee slopes.

More often than not, the season’s first significant storm cycle leads to avalanche accidents, as eager skiers and riders head out to sample the fresh powder — don’t become a statistic. Practice safe route-finding and stay away from steeper slopes near and above treeline, where triggered slides are almost certain.

Check the CAIC website for updated before heading into the backcountry.




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