Winter storm slams into Vail |

Winter storm slams into Vail

Vail Daily staff report

Snow falls at the base of Beaver Creek earlier this fall. Snow is back in the forecast Thursday night through Friday in the Vail Valley. (Ross Leonhart | Vail Daily)

A powerful winter storm making its way through Colorado’s high country is dumping snow on Vail, creating treacherous driving conditions and leaving much-needed snow on Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek.

A winter storm warning for Vail and the surrounding Gore, Elk and Sawatch mountain ranges remains in effect through 5 a.m. Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

Total snow accumulations of 8 to 16 inches are expected, with totals nearing 20 inches in some areas. Strong winds will accompany the storm, resulting in significantly reduced visibility and potentially treacherous driving conditions. Gusts of 45 to 55 mph are expected at elevations above 8,500 feet.

Follow Vail Daily on Facebook for updates about road conditions and related alerts. Interstate 70 was closed in both directions over Vail Pass at about 6 p.m. Friday because of spun-out vehicles. Vail Pass reopened at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday. The interstate also was closed from Empire Junction to the Eisenhower Tunnel. Check the Colorado Department of Transportation’s site for updated travel information and closures.

The heaviest of the snow was expected late Friday on what was supposed to be Opening Day for Vail Mountain. However, Vail Resorts delayed the opening until Thanksgiving because of a lack of snow.

{Here’s what Colorado’s traction law says and means; plus a 12-item survival pack you should put in your car today}

Joel Gratz, a meteorologist at the snow-forecasting site, said the heaviest snow would accompany the late-afternoon arrival of the cold front.

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The image from shows the expected track of a heavy snowball band at about 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17. The red line denotes the edge of the band as it descends southeast across the mountains.

The snowfall will curtail late Friday night, giving way to sunny skies Saturday.

A winter storm warning means “significant amounts of snow are expected or occurring. Strong winds and blowing snow are also possible. This will travel very hazardous or impossible.” Driving conditions could become dangerous Friday and Friday night; be prepared for traction laws and the potential for closed highways, especially over passes like Vail Pass.

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