Vail, Eagle County to see a snowy New Year’s under winter storm warning
Bitter temperatures and strong winds are also in the forecast
The year 2021 is going out with a whiteout, as snow will continue to fall into 2022.
The National Weather service in Grand Junction forecasts a 100% chance of snow for Vail and greater Eagle County on Thursday night through Friday night, with potential for some extra New Year’s Day snowfall to top it off.
Vail, Beaver Creek and Eagle County are currently under a winter storm warning through 5 a.m. Saturday that estimates an additional 12-25 inches of snow accumulation. The winter storm warning started at 11 p.m. Wednesday, and by the time it is forecast to end at 5 a.m. Saturday, snow totals of 1 to 2 feet “with localized amounts up to 3 feet” are possible, making travel “very difficult to impossible,” according to the NWS update Thursday morning.
“Thursday will bring just light snow, then on Thursday night and Friday, expect a lot more snow with powder on Friday and also on Saturday morning,” Joel Gratz of OpenSnow.com wrote on his blog.
The winter storm warning also mentions winds gusting as high as 45 mph, which could create patchy blowing snow and visibility issues for drivers. In a release sent out Thursday afternoon, Colorado Department of Transportation advised motorists to stay off the roads if possible from Thursday night through Saturday morning, when the conditions will be at their worst.
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“This week’s storms have brought significant accumulations across the mountains,” CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said in a news release. “As travelers plan to enjoy a holiday weekend in Colorado’s beautiful places, please be mindful of the times when driving will be more challenging — especially as the storm picks up throughout the day on Thursday and is most intense on Friday. Visitors should ensure that rental vehicles are equipped for snow with all-wheel or four-wheel drive and ensure compliance with traction law requirements and safety best practices.”
Interstate 70 travelers should be aware that both Vail Pass and Glenwood Canyon have closed multiple times throughout these holiday storms and to anticipate closures and delays in these areas.
To those hitting the backcountry, avalanche danger remains high (level 4 of 5) in most of the Colorado mountains, and likely into Sunday. Backcountry travel is being discouraged at this time according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
To those already here
And now, for the fun stuff: All this late December snow has helped Vail and Beaver Creek in opening more terrain for skiers and riders. Vail recently opened Sun Up and Sun Down Bowls, marking the first opening of back bowl terrain for the season.
Beaver Creek is reporting that 47% of its terrain is now open, with 81 trails and over 1,000 acres of skiable terrain. The Upper Beaver Creek Mountain Express is now connecting the Bachelor Gulch area to Strawberry Park. Leave the Beav’ is now also open to those in Avon accessing the mountain via the Westin Gondola.
Expect more openings in coming days, and adjust your gear to powder mode.
“This will be a fun period with a lot of snow and plenty of powder,” Gratz wrote. “Enjoy Friday and maybe Saturday morning, too, and dress warmly …”
It will get cold
In addition to feet of snow, bitter cold temperatures and high winds are in the forecast through Saturday morning as the next major winter storm rolls through.
With the slow-moving storm, temperatures are expected to drop significantly with wind chills nearing 25 degrees below zero in the next few days and overnight lows near or below zero. The high temperature Saturday in Vail is forecast at 18 degrees and the overnight low at 5 degrees below zero.
After more than a week of snowfall to end December, the storm cycle is expected to end over the weekend with clear skies in the forecast starting Saturday afternoon and into early next week.