Vail to see another snowy weekend with 5-10 inches in forecast; snowpack still below average
A snowy February is helping the state get back on track toward its median snowpack average
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify the SNOTEL snowpack percentage as a measurement to-date, rather than the annual averages, which are still very low.
February continues to bring some much-needed snow to our valley, with the weekend looking optimistic for those hitting the slopes at Vail Mountain or Beaver Creek.
There is a 40% chance of snow showers Friday and an 80% chance of showers on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. The forecast calls for showers during both days that settle in the evenings.
Accumulation estimates vary by forecast, but some reach double digits.
“I still think 5-10 inches is a reasonable forecast with the most enjoyable turns either last chair on Saturday or more likely the first chair on Sunday,” meteorologist Joel Gratz forecasted on OpenSnow.com.
Hazardous weather outlook in a deadly avalanche season
NWS has also issued a hazardous weather outlook for the area that will last through Tuesday. Travelers can expect periods of low visibility and slick roads, especially on Vail Pass.
As for those venturing into the backcountry, more warnings apply. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has Vail and Summit County forecasted at a “considerable” level 3 of 5 for areas above, near and below treeline, which means “Dangerous avalanche conditions. Cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.”
Last Saturday, a snowboarder was buried by an avalanche in the East Vail chutes, but managed to survive.
“The rider was carried through the trees and completely buried with his head under about a foot and a half of snow. The rider was able to make an air pocket in front of his face and get his AvaLung in his mouth. His partner recovered him in 10 to 15 minutes using a transceiver. He was shaken up, but uninjured,” CAIC reported.
The individuals involved wished to not speak with the media or have their names released.
Others have not been so fortunate, including two more avalanche fatalities that happened in Colorado on Sunday in what has been a historically deadly avalanche season for our state.
Snowpack shows improvement, but still below average
A stormy February has nearly remedied the effects of a dry January for most of Colorado, but there’s still room for improvement across the state.
According to a Feb. 17 SNOTEL report, prepared by the Department of Agriculture and the National Water and Climate Center, most of Colorado has seen 89% or more of its median snowpack to date, and some areas in the southern part of the state have already met or surpassed that. Locally, Vail’s snowpack remains on the lower end of that spectrum, so keep those snow dances coming.