VAIL, Colorado - The National Weather Service forecast for Vail shows chances of snow throughout the weekend.
The weather pattern has shifted this month to a much welcomed snowier pattern. Colder temperatures and storm tracks are showing good chances of snow again - enough new snow to account for new terrain openings at both Vail and Beaver Creek this week.
Powder forecaster Joel Gratz, who runs www.opensnow.com, shows anywhere from 7 to 17 inches of new snow falling at Vail by Monday night, and anywhere from 8 to 18 inches at Beaver Creek in that same time frame.
The weekend storm is expected to favor the southern San Juan Mountains, but there's more good news for the rest of the state, including the Vail Valley, to come.
"A strong cold front will head east off the Pacific on Tuesday, will hit Utah Tuesday night, and then bring heavy snow to most of Colorado on Wednesday. Wednesday should (hopefully...it's still five days away...but things are looking good) be a day with 'free re-fills' of powder through the day for most mountains," Gratz's Friday forecast said. "I'll provide more details as this gets closer, but with more terrain opening after this weekend's snow, next Wednesday could be a widespread powder day."
At the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, forecaster Tim Brown warns of a "touchy" snowpack, though. His Friday morning report for Vail and Summit County warns of persistent slabs that are perched atop weaker, old snow.
"Even small slides can have large consequences if they drag you through rocks and trees or show you into a gully," Brown wrote. "Expect avalanche danger to increase by Saturday morning as more snow and wind arrive overnight."
With 1 to 2 feet of new snow around Vail and Summit County in the last week, several small avalanches have already been triggered by backcountry travelers. One happened Sunday as skiers triggered a wind slab on the east side of Uneva Peak, near Vail Pass, that piled up debris 5 feet deep, according to the information center. Skiers also triggered a wind slab near Beaver Creek Sunday by cutting a cornice on an east-facing slope near treeline, the report said. A snowboarder triggered another slide near the summit of Loveland Pass on Monday, and another slab was triggered near Shrine Pass on Tuesday.
Gratz reports a positive trend - the longer range forecast toward Christmas and beyond "shows continued chances of storms every few days."
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.