STATUS: All Colorado ski areas are closed. WEATHER: Wednesday and Thursday will bring a mix of sunshine, clouds, and light showers. On Friday, we should see snow showers and steady snow from Friday midday through Saturday morning with 2-8 inches on average and maybe double digits in a few spots. Sunday will be on the dry side, then a storm on Monday could bring at least a few more inches of snow before we see mostly dry weather for the middle of next week.
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Short Term Forecast
All ski areas are closed, some for the season and some until further notice. A few ski areas are allowing uphill travel, but many are not and some have just closed uphill travel (see below). Local community leaders and first responders have emailed me personally to ask/request/beg people not to come to their mountain communities to chase powder. If you do want to get out and enjoy the new snow, please stay close to home and be extra responsible and cautious so that you’re safe and do not cause a burden to healthcare workers.
“In response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, Loveland Ski Area and the U.S. Forest Service will be prohibiting uphill access to National Forest System lands operated by Loveland Ski Area for a period of time that matches Governor Polis’ Executive Order 2020 004 and any subsequent amendments extending that timeframe. This closure will start at 12:01am on Wednesday, March 25. Loveland Ski Area encourages guest use of public lands and supports uphill access throughout the ski season. To honor the intent and language of the executive order and other state direction on minimizing group size, as well as meeting the needs of local law enforcement and emergency service providers, Loveland Ski Area will prohibit uphill access. While the ski area can limit uphill access through its existing operating plan on a temporary basis for management activities such as end-of-season tear down or emergency management situations, it is submitting this operating plan amendment given the significance and timing of the COVID-19 outbreak and the predicted length of this prohibition.”
As fellow mountain and outdoor enthusiasts, we are disappointed to share we will be closing uphill access at the end of the day on Tuesday, March 24. While we understand everyone still wants to enjoy the mountains we all love, we have continued to monitor COVID-19 and, in accordance with recommendations from authorities, have determined it is no longer safe to continue uphill access at Winter Park Resort. This is to help further support social distancing guidelines and conserve necessary medical resources for our small community. Thank you all for your understanding at this time and we look forward to welcoming you back to our slopes in the future.
Tuesday’s weather transitioned from snow showers and clouds in the morning to drier and sunnier weather during the afternoon.
Now on Wednesday morning, we are seeing a mix of some sunshine, some clouds, and also a few high-elevation showers. The latest mountain cam image from Aspen shows a few of these high-elevation showers obscuring the mountain tops.
The reason that we are seeing a few showers is that moisture is pushing into Colorado ahead of the main storm that is bringing snow to the west coast and to northern Utah. The Wednesday morning radar animation clearly shows that the majority of the snow and rain is well to our west, and it’ll stay to our west through most of Wednesday and Thursday.
Since the storm will stay to our west, the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday is for a mix of sun, clouds, and a few showers, though accumulations should be very light and confined to mostly the higher elevations.
Friday will be the transition day as the storm moves over Colorado. We will likely see dry weather in the morning, with showers increasing during the day and then a chance for more intense snow from late Friday afternoon through early Saturday morning.
Accumulations from this Friday/Saturday storm should be lower than the storm that we saw at the end of last week. This is because our moisture will be more limited and the storm will be less organized.
Still, we should see decent snow across all mountains with an average of 2-8 inches and perhaps a few spots that hit double-digits. The best chance for double-digits will be over the northern mountains thanks to wrap-around energy from the storm and northwest winds on Friday night. The only way that double-digits might happen is if a few of the stronger cells on Friday afternoon also hit this area.
Remember, many mountains are not allowing uphill travel, and from everyone I’ve talked to in mountain communities, they do NOT want people coming in to ride powder. If you do head outside for exercise, please stay as close to home as possible and make decisions that have the highest odds of the best outcome (safe terrain, places you know, don’t huck cliffs, slow down, etc).
Some people have emailed me saying that I should tell everyone to not ski, which is likely the right thing to do for public health but I also know that this isn’t realistic. Some people have emailed me saying that they’d go nuts sitting at home not being able to get outside and don't tell them what to do. I understand all the points.
My main reading of the situation is that we should take the virus seriously, but I understand that people are going to go outside, and if you do, please be as safe as possible. Do not congregate in groups, and do not be that person who gets hurt and puts an avoidable strain on our healthcare system.
For the last few days, it seemed like chances for storms next week would be pretty low.
The latest models are slightly more optimistic. Following dry weather on Saturday afternoon and Sunday, we could see at least another few inches on Monday.
The middle of next week does look dry and warm in all model forecasts. But then a few models show that we could get clipped by a northern storm sometime around Friday, April 3rd. We’ll see if that storm stays in the forecast or evaporates from the forecasts – it’s too soon to tell.
Thanks for reading!
Stay healthy, stay happy.
My next post will be on Thursday morning.
Christy Sports is selling all winter inventory from now through March 26th, with 10% of all sales going to support local COVID-19 relief efforts. Learn More.
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Steamboat, Granby, Beaver Creek, Vail, Ski Cooper, Copper, Breckenridge, Keystone, Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass, Eldora, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cameron Pass
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