VAIL, Colorado - Weather forecasters are predicting that snow will accumulate in the Vail area in the coming days, welcomed news in an area that hasn't seen a significant snow storm in nearly a month.
A few flurries have fallen here and there, but November was mostly dry and sunny. A new weather pattern provides hope for resorts and snow sports enthusiasts who have been wondering if winter would ever show up.
A new weather pattern shows consistently colder and snowy weather through the third week of December, however, according to powder forecaster Joel Gratz, who runs the site opensnow.com.
"I cannot promise big storms or the exact timing of storms, but I can say that things are looking up and we should be in much better shape regarding our snowpack and open terrain by the time Christmas week rolls around," Gratz reported in his Thursday forecast and reiterated again on Friday.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is also happily predicting snow. Forecaster Tim Brown reported Friday morning that now is a good time to look at the layering of the shallow snowpack in order "to better understand how it will react to a load of new snow that is coming."
Forecaster Brian Lazar, also of the avalanche center, forecasts the heaviest snowfall to occur Saturday night and into Sunday morning in the central and northern mountains.
"Temperatures will drop towards zero overnight, and Sunday morning could see some negative temperatures," Lazar forecasted Friday morning. "It'll be a cold Sunday, but it will also be snowy. We'll take it."
Snow recreationists certainly will take it. Skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers and everyone else who enjoys playing in the snow have been worried about snowfall mostly because of bad memories - last season's snowfall didn't amount to much. A warm and dry beginning to winter is never welcomed, but it's typically tolerated when the memories of such an appalling winter aren't so fresh.
"It's just great to have snow in the forecast and to see the shift in the jetstream (finally)," wrote Katie Regan Johnson on the Vail Daily's Facebook page.
Snow lovers still have their guards up, though. Jessie Ann commented that her hopes are high, "but I'm hoping they're not too high because it's never fun to be let down."
Marty Miller expressed skepticism about the forecast on Facebook, saying he'd be surprised if the forecast produced an "entire inch of snow."
But Gratz's forecast for Vail shows a lot more than that. Saturday's forecast is 1 to 2 inches during the day and 5 to 8 inches overnight. The Vail area could see another inch on Sunday, and then 2 to 4 inches are predicted for Monday and into Monday night.
"This is very good," Gratz reported. "We want consistent, cold weather with consistent snow. Big storms are great, but consistency wins."
With consistency finally in sight, Gratz's forecasts are getting more and more exciting both for him to write, and for his loyal followers to read. And while some remain pessimistic and just plain hurt from so many recent disappointments, plenty of others are happy to see at least something in the forecast.
Gratz is one of those people.
"The long-range forecast from (Dec.) 15-22 still looks good with a favorable storm track," Gratz reported. "This is not a guarantee of big storms during that time, but at least I can say chances are good that Colorado will continue to see colder temperatures and snow in the air every few days. Waahooo!"
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.