Heavy snow returns to the local slopes
“This is the best snow I’ve seen at “The Beav’ all year,” said Peter Lehman, 33, of Gypsum, after careening down the steep, powdery bumps of Bald Eagle like a bird hunting prey. “Sunny day and a lot of powder; you can’t beat it.”
After weeks without a good dump, and rain last week, the Vail Valley woke up to several inches of dry, fluffy snow Monday morning.
Beaver Creek received 10.5 inches of fresh snow, and Vail received 8 inches, making for an epic powder day similar to Vail’s opening day on Nov. 16, but with blue skies and temperatures in the 30s.
“The 8 inches that we received overnight filled in the inconsistencies in the snowpack that generated over the past few weeks of warm weather,” said Jen Brown, spokeswoman for Vail Mountain.
At the beginning of the month, the mid-mountain base in Vail was 36 inches, with 31 inches at Beaver Creek.
By 9:30 a.m., parking lots at Beaver Creek were full, and there was a 15- minute wait in the singles line by Centennial Express chairlift. Fresh powder usually lasts longer on a weekday, but with Presidents Day weekend crowds in the valley, Beaver Creek on Monday was mostly skied off by 11 a.m.
“(But) we anticipate continued snowfall throughout much of the week,” Brown said.
More snow on the way
Indeed, Gerry Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said there’s a chance of snow in the Vail Valley “every other day” through this coming weekend. He forecasted 2 to 3 inches of new snow Monday night, lingering into today.
“A bigger storm possibly will come Wednesday and Thursday,” Smith said.
“Also, there could be snow on the weekend.”
Temperatures will help for the perfect skiing day. Highs will be in the mid 20’s to low 30’s, Smith said, with lows in the teens.
“It won’t be very cold because the storm is coming from the Pacific,” he added.
After riding several days on groomed snow, Katie Kirtley, 15, of Tulsa, Okla., said she couldn’t wait to get to the powder.
“It has been nice,” said Kirtley, who spent the weekend skiing at Beaver Creek. “I like the powder because you fall and it doesn’t hurt.”
George Schietinger was on the chairlift with his son at 10 a.m. Monday, looking forward to his first powder day of the year. He said he was excited with the new snow, not only at Beaver Creek but also at Manhasset, N.Y., where he lives with his family.
“It snowed 20 inches in Manhasset on Sunday,” he said. “But there are no ski hills in Long Island.”
Better here than there
The worst blizzard in seven years shut down much of the Northeast on Presidents Day with blinding, windblown snow as deep as 4 feet leaving more than a quarter of a million homes and businesses shivering without power.
Schietinger, spending the week in Beaver Creek with his family, said his wife is happy to be in the Vail Valley.
“With all the terror alerts last week, she feels safer here,” said Schietinger, who saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
As pass restrictions were lifted Monday, locals hit the slopes again and mingled with tourists in ski lift lines.
Peter Sontag of the Beaver Creek Ski and Snowboard School said they were “sold out” over the weekend.
“We’re pretty much using every one (of the instructors) we got,” Sontag said Monday.
New snow: 10.5 inches
Mid-mountain base: 45 inches
New snow: 8 inches
Mid-mountain base: 51 inches
* As of Monday afternoon
– Source: Vail Resorts
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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