Vail, Eagle County expecting just a little snow this week
Dry pattern won’t help cloud seeding efforts, either
Vail Mountain is open, and Beaver Creek is set to open next week. But snow is scarce and may remain so for a while.
The latest Vail forecast from the Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service shows only a couple of chances of snow: overnight Tuesday into Wednesday and overnight Wednesday to Thursday.
Erin Walter, a forecaster in that office, said a couple of cold fronts are coming through in the next week or so, but neither seems to be packing much moisture. Walter said the early Tuesday system could drop perhaps an inch of snow in lower elevations, with areas above 9,000 feet poised to see only 3 inches or snow.
While meteorologists don’t have much confidence in forecasts more than seven days in advance, the news doesn’t get much better heading into Thanksgiving week. Walter said a high pressure ridge looks to be setting up in the Western U.S. That’s likely to bring dry weather.
That’s in line with a general forecast from the U.S. Climate Prediction Center. That calls for a tendency for above-average temperatures, and an even chance of either above-average or below-average precipitation.
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Forecaster Joel Gratz, a founder of OpenSnow.com, wrote Monday that the “mostly likely” pattern for the remainder of the month is for storm tracks to stay just to the north of Colorado.
Walter said the good news is that temperatures are expected to drop down to seasonal norms, especially at night. The early morning of Thursday may bring the coldest temperatures of the season so far. That’s good news for snowmaking at Vail and Beaver Creek.
The dry pattern also won’t provide much in the way of the moisture-laden clouds needed for cloud seeding.
Citing a tight budget, Vail Resorts in 2020 pulled its funding from a 44-year-old seeding program, in which silver iodide crystals are fired into the clouds using propane fueled generators on the ground. The crystals latch onto water droplets in clouds, making them heavy enough to precipitate out as snow.
The program was revived in January when a number of agencies from the Western Slope and Front Range put a total of about $300,000 into a shortened program. The Eagle River Water & Sanitation District and Upper Eagle River Water Authority contributed $15,000 each to that effort.
In an email, Eagle River Water & Sanitation District Communications and Public Affairs Manager Diane Johnson wrote that the district and authority are expected to again contribute $15,000 each to the program, although final amounts haven’t been set.
The state-permitted seeding season runs from November through April.
Perhaps there will be more and wetter clouds passing through soon.
Cloud seeding “uses a propane-fired generator to send tiny particles of silver iodide into the sky. Winds lift the particles into the clouds where they attract water vapor, grow, and fall as snowflakes. Silver iodide is the industry standard material used in cloud seeding, and independent scientific studies have shown it to be environmentally safe to use for seeding operations.”