Snow blankets Vail |

Snow blankets Vail

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado
NWS Snow Flies DT 10-25-10

VAIL, Colorado – Vail got its first blast of snow Monday, inspiring many local skiers and snowboarders to check out Arapahoe Basin’s opening day.

Only problem: Getting there was pretty epic in and of itself.

Stuck in standstill traffic on Interstate 70 Monday morning, Eagle resident Eric Tarkanian hit a snag in his trip to A-basin.

Earlier that morning he looked at the mountain’s web cam and liked what he saw: Lots of snow and not-too-large crowds. So he set out to try A-basin’s new chair lifts – and enjoy winter’s sudden arrival.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” the 38-year-old skier said. “It came on so quickly. I couldn’t pass it up.”

Getting over the pass was another story.

With many cars and trucks getting stuck in the snow, eastbound traffic on I-70 between Vail and the top of Vail Pass slowed to a crawl and, periodically, a dead standstill, throughout the day, Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Shawn Olmstead said.

“The road are just nasty,” he said.

Although neither Vail Pass nor Eisenhower Tunnel closed, traffic traveling east from West Vail to the top of Vail Pass had been traveling at 20 to 30 mph on average from about 11:30 a.m. to at least 3:30 p.m. Earlier in the morning, traffic slowed to a crawl east of Vail from mile marker 179 to 180.5. Olmstead said drivers should check their windshield wipers and carry proper supplies in their cars, now that snow is officially here.

Snow in Vail

In Vail, excitement is building for the mountain’s opening Nov. 19.

Snowmaking started Monday on the Golden Peak Race trail with about 25 snow guns starting up around mid-day, said Paul Fillion, senior director of mountain operations for Vail Mountain.

He expected the guns to continue blowing snow throughout the night and into the next two days. The guns turn on automatically when temperatures drop below 32 degrees, he said.

The racecourse will once again attract some star power this year. Lindsey Vonn is scheduled to start training there Nov. 2, along with up to 30 members of the men’s U.S. Ski Team, said Nigel Cooper, director of program development for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. As many as 30 members of the womens’ U.S. ski team are scheduled to begin training at Golden Peak Nov. 5, he said.

Another 1 to 3 inches could be in store for Vail today, said Meteorologist Mike Chamberlain from the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

He said a winter storm warning remains in effect through noon today.

Things should warm up a bit throughout the rest of the week, he said.

“By Friday, we’re expecting low ’50s,” he said.

Another snowstorm could be possible this weekend, he said.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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