VAIL - As Americans celebrate the end of 2012 all over the country, skiers and snowboarders around the Vail Valley are celebrating a snowy December that changed the course of a season that started out dry.
Beaver Creek received another 14 inches of fresh snow in the past week, bringing the monthly total up to nearly 6 feet. Vail reported 21 inches of new snow in the past week, bringing its December total to more than 6 feet.
There is some snow in the forecast for Monday, but powder forecaster Joel Gratz is showing a dry pattern for the first week of January. Gratz, who runs the site www.opensnow.com, expects a snowier pattern to redevelop for the northern half of Colorado during the second week of January, though.
"However, this is one to two weeks in the future, so I'm just providing a generalization of what could happen," Gratz wrote in his Saturday morning forecast. "It's impossible to predict individual storms and snow conditions that far out."
For the Vail area, Gratz is predicting 0 to 1 inch Sunday night; 2 to 4 inches Monday; and 1 to 3 inches Monday night.
"... a few luckier areas could push double digits if all the right factors come together," Gratz forecasts. "Monday and perhaps Tuesday morning will be the last good powder days of the next 7-10 days."
Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster Brian Lazar forecasts a range of 4 to 6 inches by Monday night for the Vail and Summit County zone. Areas in the San Juan and West Elk Mountains could see up to a foot or more out of the storm.
As November ended, skiers, snowboarders and especially local business owners were pleasantly surprised in early December as the first real storm of the season dropped real, actual snow around the valley. Gratz's forecast on Monday, Dec. 3, reminded readers what that white stuff falling out of the sky actually was.
"Snow! Wow. Ridiculous. Amazing," Gratz wrote. "... What a beautiful sight."
Vail Mountain was able to open part of its Back Bowls beginning Dec. 21 with Chairs 5 and 17. The following morning, China Bowl and Chair 21 opened, and to close out the weekend, the resort opened Blue Sky Basin on Sunday, Dec. 23.
LeeAnn Marshall commented on the Vail Mountain Facebook page that day that she is "looking forward to more snow - we can use it! Everyone was in a great mood today, just glad to be out there."
Vail and Beaver Creek have also made an upgrade to their snow reporting this season. The resorts will now post the 24-hour snowfall total as they always have, but they will now also note the overnight total. Skiers and snowboarders were happy with the change, as the previous way the resort reported the snow didn't distinguish how much snow had already been skied on the day before from how much fresh snow would be on the ground for the current ski day.
"We greatly appreciate the more accurate depiction of what to expect before making the trek to Eagle (County)," wrote Mike Currid on Vail's Facebook page.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.