Vail Valley bracing for a good-sized shot of snow |

Vail Valley bracing for a good-sized shot of snow

Higher elevations could see 10 inches or more of new snow

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Thursday and Friday for the central Rockies including the Vail Valley.
The forecast
  • Here’s the National Weather Service forecast for Vail through April 19:
  • April 16: Snow showers, with a high of 36. Chance of snow: 90%
  • April 17: A 40% chance of snow shower, with a high of 42.
  • April 18: A 40% chance of snow or rain showers, with a high near 46.

You haven’t taken your snow tires off, have you? If you’re still driving anywhere, you’re going to need them the next few days.

The National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office Wednesday issued a winter storm warning for the Rockies from roughly Buena Vista north into Wyoming. The warning area includes the Vail Valley.

Mike Charnick, a forecaster in the Grand Junction office, said the snow was expected to start Wednesday night, with the heaviest periods expected in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday.

Another storm wave is expected to move through the area Thursday evening and last into the overnight hours.

“When all’s said and done, we’re in for a fair amount of snow in the valley,” Charnick said.

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That “fair amount” could mean 4 to 6 inches in and near Minturn, with less in lower elevations. Moving toward Vail Pass, snow accumulations could hit 10 inches or more, Charnick said, with 12 to 16 inches possible in the higher elevations.

The coming storm should help build snowpack in the higher elevations. That’s a good thing, since snowpack is essentially the valley’s water supply through the late spring, summer and fall. The snowpack on Vail Mountain was at 85% of the 30-year median as of April 15. The snowpack was above that median number at Copper Mountain, the measurement site closest to Vail Pass, and at Fremont Pass, the measurement site closest to the headwaters of the Eagle River.

Friday afternoon should see the storm start to ease out of the area.

Since we aren’t supposed to play in the snow these days and many of us are working from home, there’s a good bit less traffic on the roads.

Elise Thatcher of the Colorado Department of Transportation said that reduced traffic has made it easier for plow drivers to get their work done.

“Traffic isn’t getting in the way of plows, mostly,” Thatcher said. “The plows can be efficient as possible.”

The one complication from fewer cars on the road is that some motorists are taking the opportunity to drive much faster than the posted limits, including through construction zones.

“It’s happening all over the state,” she said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at

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