Moisture lifts Eagle County fire restrictions, brings snow to higher elevations | VailDaily.com

Moisture lifts Eagle County fire restrictions, brings snow to higher elevations

EAGLE COUNTY — Cloudy days can be gloomy. But clouds over the past week or so have brought a lot of cheer to the Vail Valley.

Much of Eagle County has seen more precipitation in the past week than in the previous few months. That rain — and some snow — on Tuesday, Oct. 9, prompted area fire officials to lift all fire restrictions in the county. That's true for private and public lands throughout Eagle County.

That news comes after a dry summer fraught with wildfires around the Mountain West prompted a roller coaster of fire restrictions.

On Tuesday, June 12, local, state and federal officials put Eagle County under Stage 1 fire restrictions after the dry spring enabled a few fires to expand quickly. Officials bumped the county up to Stage 2 restrictions on Friday, June 29, leading to the cancellation of all Fourth of July community fireworks displays in the county. After easing back to Stage 1 again on Friday, Aug. 31, and eliminating all fire restrictions on Friday, Sept. 7, fire officials made the decision to move back to Stage 1 on Friday, Sept. 21.

At this point, moisture, along with cooler weather, has again lifted the restrictions. But officials warn residents to still be careful.

White Gold

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Recent moisture, particularly over the weekend, brought a more seasonal kind of precipitation to the valley: snow.

The snow stake at Blue Sky Basin on Vail Mountain showed more than 5 inches of new snow on Tuesday. Snow didn't stick in the valley, but it did lift a lot of spirits in the area.

At the Coyote Cafe in Beaver Creek, owner Jeff Forbes said one of his managers may have been spotted doing a snow dance outside the restaurant on Monday, Oct. 8.

The snow, and lower temperatures, can help with snow making, Forbes said, adding that the annual Birds of Prey ski races are coming to Beaver Creek is less than two months.

Mark Gordon's office is in Vail Village at Christiania Realty. Gordon said he didn't see any happy dances in the village during Monday's snow.

"But the energy and joy in the village is very obvious," Gordon said, adding that he was tempted to head outside to catch a few flakes on his tongue Monday.

Gordon noted that he tells prospective clients that they'll know an email is from him — and not algorithm-generated marketing software — if it includes something that's happening in town.

For a couple of days, Gordon has written about snow, with the prospect of more on the way.

More on the way?

The National Weather Service's forecast for the rest of the week in the valley includes clouds, low temperatures and a good chance of more snow for Vail on Wednesday, Oct. 10, and Thursday, Oct. 11. There's even the possibility of snow in the forecast for Gypsum.

Dan Cuevas, a forecaster at the Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service, said that after a summer where high pressure over the southwestern United States kept the usual monsoonal moisture flow away from the Mountain West, the system finally broke down in the first week of October.

That high pressure system was replaced — at least for a time — with a low pressure system that allowed moisture to flow into the region. For the next few days, some moisture will flow through the high country, bringing rain and snow.

Cuevas said most of the Western Slope has seen more precipitation in the past week than in the past three or four months. The airport at Grand Junction has seen nearly two inches of rain in the past several days. That's a lot for the high-desert city.

"It's been quite welcome," Cuevas said.

And, while an El Nino pattern is developing in the Pacific Ocean, Cuevas said that pattern hasn't established well enough to have any impact on our current weather.

When more snow does come, expect to see more happy dances.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2930.

Five facts

• The snow stake at Blue Sky Basin at Vail showed more than five inches of new snow on Tuesday, Oct. 9, although Vail Resorts doesn’t begin officially measuring snowfall until November.

• Fire restrictions have been lifted in Eagle County and across the Western Slope.

• Much of the Western Slope has received more precipitation in the past week than in the previous three months.

• The Lake Christine fire near Basalt is officially 100 percent contained.

• Opening day at Vail Mountain is Friday, Nov. 16.