High Country weather: Cold, snowy in Vail | VailDaily.com

High Country weather: Cold, snowy in Vail

Caitlin Row
Summit County, CO Colorado
Mark Fox/Summit Daily NewsThe thermometer outside of Bank of the West on Summit Boulevard in Frisco let motorists know that is was really cold out Monday morning.

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” Get out your face gaiters: With temperatures dropping as low as minus 15 degrees on Monday and more cold, snowy weather expected, it can be plumb dangerous to be outside without sufficient clothing. This weather is pervasive in the High Country, particularly in Vail, Colorado.

Numerous locals reported white chins and numb noses over the weekend as they braved the elements to take turns in some of the best champagne powder to date this season.

The National Weather Service predicts snow in Summit County through the weekend, with bitterly cold temperatures that will progressively warm to the low 20s.

Forecasters were predicting an additional 3 to 7 inches of new snow throughout the county by this morning.

Add to that a growing avalanche danger, and it might be best just to stay in by the fire.

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“The very cold temperatures (Monday) morning are bad for helping the snowpack stabilize,” said John Snook, a forecaster for the Colorado Avalanche Center.

Avalanche danger is not expected to decrease as the week progresses, Snook added. It’s currently varied between considerable and high in Summit County and Vail.

“People will need to be careful in the backcountry really through the weekend,” Snook said, citing the cold temperature and a fair amount of snow, especially around Vail Pass and west of that.

A 52-year-old man was found dead Sunday at the bottom of an avalanche outside the ski-area boundary on Aspen Mountain. Another skier was caught in an in-bounds avalanche in Vail Mountain’s Blue Sky Basin on Sunday but was unhurt.

After the weekend’s storms, the snow-water levels for the area have climbed to just slightly below average, said Mike Gillespie, the snow survey supervisor for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

November was bad for the average, but there’s been an excellent recovery in the month of December, he said.

“It’s at 96 percent of the average for the Colorado River basin,” Gillespie said. “… We’re not quite as high in terms of water-snow from a year ago … (But) we still have a lot of the season ahead of us. A lot can happen. Even though numbers sound good, it can get better or worse. We need to keep watching it and hope for additional snowfall.”

Edward Stoner of the Vail Daily News and Chad Abraham of the Aspen Times contributed to this story.

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