Vail, Eagle County set to get more snow this week
Some very cold temps are also on the way
More snow is expected in Eagle County this week, and you can count on some mid-winter cold, too.
According to the National Weather Service, there’s snow in the forecast for Vail between Tuesday and Thursday, with daytime highs in the 20s and with an overnight low of minus 7 the night of Thursday, March 10.
The snow will be welcome, of course. The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District’s chart of “snow water equivalent” at measurement sites on Vail Mountain, Copper Mountain and Fremont Pass show the snowpack hovering at about 90% of the 30-year median. Water supplies through the rest of the year depend on that snowpack.
Dennis Phillips, a meteorologist at the Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service, said there’s been a recent change in weather patterns. Instead of storms tracking in from the Pacific Northwest, Phillips said the current round of storms is expected to come straight out of the north, which will also bring cold temperatures.
Breaking the old habit
Sam Collentine, the chief operating offcer and meteorologist at the OpenSnow website, noted that for most of this winter, the weather was locked into a pattern that either “pushed all the storm energy north into Canada and eventually into the eastern half of the U.S., or we have received cold and moisture-starved storms that slid down the spine of the Rockies from Canada and delivered a few inches of fluffy snow, at best.”
Collentine added that pattern has broken down over the past few weeks, due to a the higher sun angle.
Collentine added that March is starting to act like March, which explains the round of storms in the forecast over the next 10 days or so.
Be careful in the backcountry
Depending on how the wind behaves over the next few days, that new snow could create more hazardous conditions in the backcountry.
Ben Pritchett, a forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, said Monday that avalanche danger in the Vail area was listed as “moderate.” With winds predicted along with snow this week, Pritchett said “we’ll just have to see” what effects those storms may have on snowpack stability in the backcountry.
Pritchett said the snowpack trends toward raising the Tuesday avalanche danger to “considerable.” But, he added, current forecasting doesn’t indicate the danger going into “high” with this week’s storms. Still, it’s a good idea to check with the avalanche information center’s website before planning a backcountry trip.
Forecasters don’t predict weather with any certainty past about 10 days. But the U.S. Climate Prediction Center takes a more general look, with predictions in terms of the chance of warmer- or colder-than-normal temperatures and greater or lesser chances of normal precipitation.
The center’s one-month forecast for Colorado calls for a chance of cooler-than-normal temperatures for the northwestern portion of Colorado and equal chances of greater- or less-than-normal precipitation.
Given our drought-prone tendencies over the past several years, that’s pretty good news. It’s especially good news considering that the precipitation has a chance to stick to the hillsides, at least for some of the spring.
The outlook isn’t great for May, June and July, when the center predicts below-average precipitation and warmer-than-average temperatures.