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Most Colorado ski areas are anticipating massive accumulations of snow for the rest of the week, with many predicted to receive more than a foot and a half before the storm winds down.
And a lot more may be coming next week.
The forecasts are great news for skiers who have had to cope with dismal snowfall this winter as well as water managers facing ongoing drought across the state.
Steamboat is expected to receive 29 inches over the next five days, according to the OpenSnow reporting and forecasting service. Backcountry skiers in that part of the state will be rejoicing with 32 inches predicted at Buffalo Pass.
Snowmass can expect 21 inches, according to OpenSnow, with Aspen Highlands and Cooper expecting 20 inches and Aspen Mountain and Vail anticipating 19 inches. Aspen Highlands, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Buttermilk, Copper Mountain and Crested Butte all are expecting 16-18 inches, while Winter Park, Loveland, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Granby Ranch can expect 14 inches.
Rocky Mountain National Park is predicted to receive 17 inches.
“The storm is coming, but most of the day on Wednesday may not feel like it,” according to meteorologist Joel Gratz, OpenSnow’s founder, writing in his daily forecast Wednesday morning. “Temperatures will be warm, and at the beginning of the day, we’ll see just scattered snow showers in southwest and west-southwest flow. A few mountains may get lucky and see a few inches of snow through midday. The snow level may get as high as 8,000-9,000 feet during the day, so some base areas could see raindrops.
“Then, by Wednesday later afternoon and Wednesday night, snow will ramp up as temperatures cool and the jet stream creates a narrow band of intense snowfall (1 to 2-plus inches per hour). The best chance to see this band of intense snow will be from near and just south of I-70 down to about Aspen.”
Steamboat is forecast to receive only 7 inches over the next two days but the next storm is expected to bring 17 inches there on Friday and Saturday.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued an avalanche watch for the Aspen and Gunnison areas.
“On Wednesday, expect strong west-southwest winds and heavy snowfall to increase the avalanche danger to HIGH (Level 4 of 5) by late afternoon or early evening,” the center said. “Large and dangerous avalanches will be easy to trigger and some will run naturally during periods of intense snowfall. Avoid traveling on or underneath avalanche terrain by later Wednesday afternoon.”
More good snow may be coming next week, with Steamboat forecast to receive an additional 15 inches while Loveland, Snowmass, Vail and Winter Park may receive another 11 inches.