Vail snowpack still below average |

Vail snowpack still below average

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyScott Banjac, left, and Dave Gillette take advantage of good snow conditions at the top of Vail Mountain to tandem a trick off a jump Wednesday in Vail.

VAIL ” Last weekend’s snowfall nudged the local snowpack toward normal, and a big winter storm forecast for this weekend could bring a lot more white stuff our way.

But the snow still lags behind average for this time of year, with the snowpack at Vail Mountain at 79 percent of average Monday.

Local water officials aren’t worrying yet about the snowpack, which, when it melts, provides much of the drinking water for the area.

“Given the date … it’s just really early, and so while everybody would like more, it’s not unusual,” said Diane Johnson, spokeswoman for the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

A storm that’s headed to Eagle County this weekend will likely bring that snowpack closer to normal.

A winter storm warning was in effect from Wednesday night through Thursday morning, with 4-8 inches expected through today, said Ken Ludington of the National Weather Service.

Up to 1-2 feet could fall on Vail Mountain by late Friday, he said.

“It does look like there’s a chance for more snow through the weekend,” Ludington said.

Johnny Schleper of Buzz’s Ski Shop said he hasn’t been watching the weather forecast, but, as a Vail native, he can sense the snow coming.

“I’m kind of just feeling it,” he said.

Conditions are already great up on the mountain, he said.

“A lot of fun, not too many rocks,” he said. “The groomers are doing a good job keeping the runs nice.”

Vail Mountain has gotten 60 inches so far this year at Mid-Vail, compared to a historical average of 73 inches. Vail Mountain, which struggled to open in mid-November because of warm and dry weather, finally got a good snowstorm last weeking, reporting 11 inches of snow Sunday. Beaver Creek reported 15 inches on Sunday.

Statewide, the snowpack is at 75 percent of average.

“We’ve kind of been behind the eight-ball all year, especially in the southern basins,” said Chris Pacheco, assistant snow survey supervisor with the National Resources Conservation Service.

But it’s too early to worry, Pacheco said.

“If we get a handful of good storms those ought to be able to make up any deficit pretty easily,” he said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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