Vail Valley set to see yet another spring storm |

Vail Valley set to see yet another spring storm

People waiting to hit the links or the garden

The snow is mostly off the Gypsum Creek Golf Club, but course officials are waiting for the greens to dry out more before allowing play.
Gypsum Creek Golf Club/archive photo
The forecast Here’s the National Weather Service forecast for Vail for the next few days: Tuesday 90% chance of snow, high of 29, low of 10 Wednesday: Snow showers likely, high of 29, low of 7 Thursday: Sunny, high of 39 Friday: Sunny, high of 50

The Gypsum Creek Golf Course isn’t open yet, and people are anxious to play. But the weather has something to say about that.

The National Weather Service is predicting yet another spring snowstorm, this time accompanied by sub-freezing weather. Erin Walter, a meteorologist at the weather service’s Grand Junction office, said this storm is the result of an “anomalously strong and cold” trough of wet weather moving in. Temperatures in Vail will be below freezing through at least Thursday morning.

Walter said while Vail is forecast to only receive a few inches from the latest storm, there could be “heavy snow at times” over higher elevations. That could snarl travel on those high-elevation highways.

The weather is expected to warm by Friday, when a high pressure ridge settles in for a few days.

That doesn’t mean we’re done with winter weather, though. Walter said another low-pressure system is over the Pacific Ocean now, and should hit the Rocky Mountains sometime next week.

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“We’re still in a pretty active spring pattern,” Walter said.

That leaves a number of people eager for spring to take hold.

Itching to swing

At the Gypsum Creek Golf Club, Operations Manager Christy Martin said she and other course employees are watching this system, and looking to perhaps open this weekend.

On the other hand, course managers want the greens to dry out a bit more before opening to players.

How anxious are local duffers to hit the course? Gypsum Creek’s annual Frostbite Tournament is set for April 14-16, and Martin said all 120 spots are sold out for that event.

Martin added that the best way to check the course’s status is to download the Gypsum Creek app from either Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store.

At the other end of the Vail Valley, people are also eager to start work at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.

Colin Lee, the senior horticulturalist for the gardens said he and others are eager to start work. But, given that the gardens are still covered by between 2 and 3 feet of snow, even the most eager garden volunteers have to “be very patient,” according to Lee.

Lee said work on the garden grounds mostly involves cleanup, which will continue until almost June. But some of this season’s plants are getting a new head start this spring, thanks to some newly available space in a town of Vail greenhouse at the Public Works Department campus.

The snowpack is … good

While people are anxious to start their springtime activities, every flake of snow still has a lot of value in a region that’s been suffering for years from a serious drought.

While this seems like it’s been a heavy winter, the latest snowpack numbers from U.S. Department of Agriculture SNOTEL measurement sites near Vail tell a less-rosy story.

The most recent graphs posted by the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District show that snowpack is doing somewhat better than, or right around, the 30-year median levels.

The measurement site on Vail Mountain as of April 3 showed the snow water equivalent at 21.5 inches, 113% of the 30-year median.

The site at Copper Mountain is the closest to Vail Pass, the headwaters of Gore Creek. That site showed snowpack at 104% of normal. The site at Fremont Pass, the closest site to the headwaters of the Eagle River, is currently at 93% of the 30-year median.

How quickly that snow comes off the slopes depends in large part on how long it takes for spring to really take hold.

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