Vail Valley revels in latest blast of snow, cold weather |

Vail Valley revels in latest blast of snow, cold weather

Vail and Beaver Creek mountains each saw 10 inches, and the weather is just right for making snow

By the numbers
  • 10: Inches of new snow at Vail and Beaver Creek.
  • 0: Closures of Vail Pass.
  • 1: Closure of Interstate 70 between Dotsero and DeBeque.
  • 34: Forecast high for Vail on Oct. 27.

The snowstorm forecast for Sunday delivered pretty much as promised, with several inches of snow throughout Eagle County and a bone-chilling followup as the storm passed.

The storm didn’t cause too much havoc on the roads. Trooper Josh Lewis of the Colorado State Patrol said there were a number of motorists who slid off Interstate 70 on Vail Pass Sunday. But, Lewis said, most of those crashes involved property damage, not injuries to people.

Vail Public Safety Communications Center Director Marc Wentworth said the dispatch center operatations were “pretty normal” over the course of the storm.

In a switch for any snowstorm, Vail Pass was never closed during the storm. On the other hand, I-70 from Dotsero to DeBeque was closed for a time Sunday. That happens only rarely.

Lewis said when closures happen, officers patrol the road to make sure no one is trapped.

Similarly, Holy Cross Energy Monday reported a widespread power outage in the Roaring Fork Valley. That outage affected about 21,000 utility customers between Carbondale and Aspen.

A nice shot on the mountains

Off the roads and on the mountains, both Vail and Beaver Creek reported 10 inches of new snow as of Monday morning, with a bit more falling into the day.

In an email, John Plack, senior communications manager for Vail and Beaver Creek, wrote that both resorts are “taking advantage of the great snowmaking conditions.”

The solid shot of snow had a few environmental benefits, too.

With all of Colorado in some level of drought, and virtually all of Eagle County in the highest classification of “exceptional,” any moisture is more than welcome.

Eagle River Water and Santation District Communications and Public Affairs Manager Diane Johnson said that the storm put some much-needed snow into the higher elevations. Along the valley floor and lower elevations, snowmelt from this storm will put some moisture back into our parched soils. Snowmelt that makes it into local streams will boost streamflows a bit, which helps aquatic life in those streams.

Don’t get too excited

But, Johnson said, it’s too early to get very excited about one storm.

“Any snow is better than no snow,” Johnson said. But, she added, viewing snowpack now as a percentage of normal “means nothing” right now. That’s because the state’s “water year,” the period during which snow accumulates, starts Oct. 1. Even if there had been other storms, the early-season measurements don’t add up to much.

But a little moisture in the soil helps at least cut the current deficit. That might matter in the months to come. If snow falls on dry soil, snowmelt will just soak into the ground instead of running into streams. That’s what happened this year.

While we all look forward to more snow leading up to Vail’s Nov. 20 opening date, the outlook isn’t great. While weather forecasters don’t make predictions more than about a week out, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for a chance of warmer than average temperatures and below-average precipitation from November through January.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at

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