Snowfall only about halfway done through Saturday night | VailDaily.com

Snowfall only about halfway done through Saturday night

A Colorado State Patrol trooper works to clear a disabled vehicle Friday morning on Vail Pass.

VAIL — The region's latest series of winter storms is both wonderful and terrible. No it's not. It's wonderful. Snow's coming.

National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Charnick said we'll see snow through Saturday night and Sunday morning — upwards of 6 inches — then it'll clear.

Then, just when you think it's safe to break out the flip flops, it'll snow some more.

"With the accumulation by Saturday we'll be about halfway done," Charnick said.

Whether Vail or Aspen gets more snow from a storm system depends on the wind direction and which way the storm is heading. In this case, the two resorts are equally blessed, Charnick said.

Most of these storms start in the Pacific and are blowing through the Lake Tahoe area before coming our way.

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Tahoe has been hammered with unbelievable amounts of snow, and it hasn't stopped. Before Monday morning comes and goes, they may get another 6 feet of snow.

Your best powder day in our area, Colorado's central mountains, will be Sunday morning, Monday and Tuesday, said Joel Gratz, with opensnow.com.

"It is nearly impossible for us to have consistent snow throughout the winter," Gratz said. "Usually there are at least a few seven- to 10-day periods of dry weather."

Gratz said that after about nine weeks of consistent snow beginning in mid-November, we'll see one of these dry spells from Thursday through at least Feb. 3.

Icy roads

This particular storm system is high moisture content snow, and when temperatures drop that often means roads get icy, said Tracy Trulove, communications director for the Colorado Department of Transportation's northwest region.

Plow drivers and maintenance crews are on 24-hour shifts. That means crews rotate 12-hour shifts until they reach dry road conditions.

"The storm systems will likely result in the return of snow-packed and icy roads for (Interstate) 70 from Georgetown to Vail, and may require chain and traction laws," said Patrick Chavez, Colorado Department of Transportation I-70 Mountain Corridor Manager. "We'd like to remind travelers heading to ski resorts and winter events to be prepared for slower traffic and longer commute times because of the snowy conditions. Due to traction concerns during heavy snowfall, (the department) may implement its safety metering system, located just east of Silverthorne this weekend, to help alleviate traffic congestion."

During a storm, at least half the crew members on each patrol are out at any given time, some overlapping their shifts to keep coverage consistent, Trulove said.

Motorists may be required to observe Colorado's traction law. You'll need snow tires, tires with mud/snow designation, or a four-wheel drive vehicle. All tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch tread.

Without proper equipment, you can be fined $130. If your vehicle blocks the roadway, you could be fined more than $650.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@ vaildaily.com.

How much weather?

Saturday: Snow showers likely, mainly after 11 a.m. Cloudy, with a high near 28. South wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

Saturday Night: Snow showers, mainly before 11 p.m. Low around 14. West wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent. New snow accumulation of around an inch possible.

Sunday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 25. West southwest wind around 10 mph.

Sunday Night: Snow showers likely, mainly after 11 p.m. Cloudy, with a low around 18. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.

Monday: Snow showers. High near 32. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent.

Monday Night: Snow showers likely, mainly before 11 p.m. Cloudy, with a low around 16.

Tuesday: A chance of snow showers, mainly before 11 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 23.

Tuesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 9.

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 23.

Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 10.

Thursday: Partly sunny, with a high near 24.