More snow socks Vail |

More snow socks Vail

Matt Zalaznick
Special to the Daily/National Oceanic and AtmospheWith record snows on the slopes after weekend snowstorm, another storm is approaching the Pacific Coast, due to arrive in Colorado Wednesday or Thursday, forecasters say.

Two and a half feet of snow fell on the slopes through Monday, prompting resort officials to call conditions the best ever with portions of the mountain set to open for the season on Saturday.

“This is as good as it’s ever been for Nov. 11,” said Bill Jensen, chief operating officer of Vail Mountain. “Everyone should be looking forward to opening day, Nov. 16.”

The heavy snowfall pushed the mountain’s base at Mid-Vail up another foot, to 37 inches Monday morning from 25 inches measured Sunday afternoon. The record base for November is 43 inches.

There is even more snow at the top. A total of 8 feet have fallen on Vail Mountain since October, allowing it to open a week ahead of schedule, Jensen says.

Conditions are equally exemplary down the road at Beaver Creek Mountain, where 20 inches fell over the weekend. That measurement was taken at Spruce Saddle, about half-way up Beaver Creek, which opens a week after Vail on Nov. 23.

“I can’t recall any pre-opening accumulation that even comes close to this,” said John Garnsey, Beaver Creek Mountain’s chief operating officer. “If you’re looking at total accumulation, it’s a lot. It’s exciting stuff.”

The U.S. and Austrian ski teams hit the slopes of Beaver Creek for some free-skiing today to prepare for high-speed training Wednesday, Garnsey said.

At this time last year, operators of mountains were fretting at the stingy skies and record-warm weather. Vail Mountain didn’t fire up its lifts until Thanksgiving Day – and even then, only a tiny portion of the mountain was open.

Vail Mountain is now planning to open 50 trails, 742 acres of terrain and six lifts: –

– Giant Steps, Chair 1

– Avanti Express, Chair 2

– Mountaintop Express, Chair 4

– Born Free Express, Chair 8

– Vista Bahn Express

– Eagle Bahn Express Gondola

With more snow piling up, however, Jensen and other mountain managers may decide to open more terrain on Saturday.

Snowfall Monday added to headaches on the valley’s roads and highways, which remained snowpacked and icy in many spots. At least one roll-over accident was reported in Eagle County Monday morning.

Chain-laws remained in effect on Vail Pass throughout the morning. Conditions on Interstate 70 on Vail Pass were described as slushy and icy.

“This storm was about what we expected,” said Troy Lindquist, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. “We expected widespread, heavy amounts of snow over higher elevations, and that’s what we ended up with.”

Surrounding mountains measured between 10 and 20 inches of snow throughout the weekend, Lindquist said.

There was a continued chance of snowfall Monday night, and the skies today are expected to remain partly cloudy. And there’s more snow in the forecast, Lindquist said.

“Another system should come through with a chance of snow Wednesday, Wednesday night and then again in Thursday,” he said. “Right now, it does not look like a major one.”

And the weather for opening day? Though there may be heaps of fresh powder, Saturday may not be a powder day in the classic sense.

“For the coming weekend, it looks like party cloudy conditions,” Lindquist said. “We’re not expecting any snowfall at this point.”

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at

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