SUMMIT COUNTY, CO – Summit County and the surrounding mountainous regions are bracing for a blanket of snow as early as Wednesday afternoon continuing into Thursday morning. The forecast comes amid rising excitement for the ski season, yet also as a cautionary note for fall travelers.
According to Chad Gimmestad, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Boulder office, the snowfall is not expected to be extraordinarily heavy. “At this point, it doesn’t look particularly heavy, but enough to give a little bit of snow to the valley area,” he said. Valley areas, including most towns, could see between 1 or 2 inches of snowfall by Thursday, whereas higher-elevation areas could experience even more.
Temperature Drop and Variable Snow Conditions
The forecast also predicts a significant drop in temperature. Areas like Silverthorne and Dillon can expect a plunge from 50 degrees on Wednesday to a chilling 23 degrees by Thursday morning. Joel Gratz, a meteorologist who writes for OpenSnow.com, corroborated that some regions, particularly northern ones like Steamboat, could see as much as 8 inches of snowfall into Friday morning.
However, temperatures are set to rise again by the weekend, hovering around the 50s. The combination of lower temperatures near freezing and strong sunlight is likely to result in wet and heavy snow, which may cause icy sidewalks and less traveled streets.
Ski Resorts Ramp Up Snow-Making Operations
The upcoming snow showers arrive as neighboring ski resorts like Keystone Resort and Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort ramp up snow-making operations. These resorts often compete to be the first to open for the season, aiming for mid- to late-October start dates. Copper Mountain Resort and Breckenridge Ski Resort are likely to open their slopes in November.
There’s also growing speculation about the potential for a strong El Nino pattern in the coming winter and spring, which often results in more precipitation and cooler temperatures in southern regions. However, meteorologists caution that El Nino may have limited impact on central mountain areas like Summit County.
Fall Travel Safety Tips in the Mountains
With the variable weather conditions in the mountains, here are some safety tips for fall travelers:
Check Weather Forecasts: Always check the weather forecast before heading to the mountains. Conditions can change quickly.
Tire Checks: Ensure your vehicle is equipped with snow tires or carry chains.
Daylight Travel: Try to travel during daylight hours when roads are more likely to be cleared and visibility is better.
Emergency Supplies: Carry basic emergency supplies, including water, snacks, a flashlight, and a first-aid kit.
Variable Road Conditions: If you encounter icy or snow-covered roads, reduce speed and increase your following distance.
Sunlight Matters: During fall, the angle of the sun can cause snow to melt and refreeze, resulting in icy conditions.
By paying close attention to weather forecasts and taking necessary precautions, travelers can ensure a safer journey through Colorado’s scenic but occasionally challenging mountain roads. Learn more with our complete mountain safety guide.
Source: Summit Daily