March sure came in like a lamb the last few days. After the previous extended period of cold and wind, a little warmup is welcome. It’s the first spring teaser. We can certainly expect a number of these between now and when spring actually arrives. By the calendar, that is just 10 days away. In weather terms, we know there’s plenty of snow and cold ahead here in southeast Wyoming, making these brief respites so enjoyable. There’s a chance for snow Thursday, but the bulk of that fast-moving storm will be to the south in Colorado and Kansas.
Otherwise, the weekend looks ideal for getting out and enjoying the snow and sunshine. Breezes pick up Sunday, but temperatures remain mild compared to the last few weeks. More unsettled conditions arrive next week, so get out and enjoy the nice weather while it lasts.
The slopes at the Snowy Range Ski and Recreation Area saw 8 inches of new snow over the past five days and, according to skier reports, conditions are excellent. There’s a chance for a couple inches of snow late in the week, but blue skies should prevail through the weekend. According to the ski area website, tickets are already sold out for the next two weekends. Try hitting the slopes in the middle of the week, if possible, or plan weekend skiing well in advance.
Northwest Wyoming is also seeing some blue sky, a rarity in that part of the state over the past month. In the last six days, 24 inches of snow fell at Grand Targhee, on the west side of Teton Pass. There is no snow in the forecast through Saturday. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort saw 18 inches of new snow since last weekend, and is also forecast to have nothing but blue skies through Saturday.
The storm rolling through to the south Thursday will deliver at least a few inches of snow to most Colorado resorts, especially for areas in southern parts of that state. Winter Park saw 6 inches of new snow since last weekend, with another 6 inches in the forecast by Saturday. Steamboat fared a little better, with 13 inches since last weekend and another 6 inches in the forecast by Saturday.
Snow also fell last weekend in the Medicine Bow Mountains, with some breezes. The snowpack continues at 111% of average. At Keystone, near Rob Roy Reservoir, there has been a total of 177 inches of snow so far this season, according to Don Day Jr. at www.dayweather.com. This is a 9-inch increase from last week. This is still well behind the 238 inches reported by this time last year, but is ahead of the 156 inches reported by this time in 2018.
Conditions “up top” in the Snowy Range are excellent. There was some new snow this past week, but the snowpack settled somewhat, resulting in a decrease in snow depths in spite of the new snow. This is helping stabilize the snowpack and reduce the avalanche risk.
Personnel at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center report the avalanche danger for the southern Wyoming and northern Colorado mountains is rated “moderate” at all elevations. Although becoming less likely, avalanches are still possible. Deeper avalanches are more likely in thinner areas where the weak layers are closer to the surface and more sensitive to being triggered.
Backcountry skiers report outstanding conditions heading out from the Green Rock Trailhead off of Highway 130. Conditions are best in the trees, where the wind is less of a factor.
Snow depths are still good on the Barber Lake Trail and at the lower elevation trails at Corner Mountain. Most any route off of Highway 130 offers plenty of snow for snowshoers and skiers.
Conditions are very good on the trails at Chimney Park, off of Highway 230. About 10 inches of new snow fell since last weekend. There has been no recent mechanical grooming, and there’s a good chance that will be the case the rest of the season. Thanks to high use, though, these trails are well packed by skiers and snowshoers.
Several inches of new snow graced the Pole Mountain area between Laramie and Cheyenne last weekend. That was very welcome, since the snowpack in that area is the lowest in the state at a mere 31% of normal.
Thanks to the few inches of new snow, the groomers with the Medicine Bow Nordic Association at the Happy Jack Recreation Area managed to pack down the Nordic ski trails and even set the first classic tracks for the season. The warm weather of the last couple days likely won’t help conditions, but the trails are in the best shape of the season so far.
The multi-use trails at the Happy Jack Recreation Area have been groomed after each snow flurry and are in great shape. The trails will be busy Saturday, with the annual Chubby Chaser Fat Bike Race starting at 8 a.m. Start and finish is at the lower Happy Jack trailhead, with the full course covering 12 to 15 miles, and the shorter Jelly Roll course covering 5 to 8 miles. The trails remain open to all users, but trail courtesy is encouraged to yield to racers. Online registration ends today.
The U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service snow measuring stations report 56 inches of snow at Cinnabar Park, a 1-inch increase from last week. The station at Brooklyn Lake reports 67 inches of snow, a 2-inch decrease from last week. On the north end of the range, the station at Sand Lake shows 80 inches of snow, a decrease of 6 inches from a week ago. The station at Medicine Bow, at an elevation of 10,500 feet, reports 102 inches of snow, a decrease of 6 inches from last week. The station at North French Creek, on the west side of the Medicine Bow Mountains, reports 83 inches of snow, a decrease of 7 inches from last week. The Crow Creek station on Pole Mountain shows 14 inches of snow, an increase of 2 inches from last week.
Pole Mountain/Happy Jack Recreation Area Nordic ski trails: A few inches of snow fell this past weekend. Trails are groomed daily for both classic and skate technique as conditions allow.
Pole Mountain Multi-Use Trails: Conditions are excellent for snowbiking and snowshoeing, but soft for trail runners. Icy patches persist on the lower elevation trails.
Chimney Park Nordic ski trails: Excellent conditions with about 10 inches of new snow this past week. Trails are user-packed with no recent grooming.
Snowy Range backcountry conditions: Outstanding conditions at the higher elevations. There’s about 12 inches of new snow atop a user-packed base.
Snowy Range: Conditions are very good, and avalanche risk has eased. New snow is expected on Thursday, and winds kick up Saturday.
Quick Numbers Wyoming Downhill Areas
Snowy Range Ski Area: 82-inch base; 5 lifts, 33 runs and 100% of terrain open.
Grand Targhee: 118-inch base; 5 lifts, 95 trails and 100% of terrain open.
Hogadon: 15-inch base; 2 lifts, 28 trails and 100% of terrain open.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort: 109-inch base; 13 lifts, 118 trails and 89% of terrain open.
Sleeping Giant: 72-inch base; 3 lifts, 49 trails and 100% of terrain open.
Snow King: 55-inch base; 4 lifts, 33 trails and 100% of terrain open.
Colorado Downhill Areas
Arapahoe Basin: 48-inch base; 9 lifts, 134 trails and 92% of terrain open.
Breckenridge: 48-inch base; 32 lifts, 137 trails and 73% of terrain open.
Copper Mountain: 37-inch base; 23 lifts, 156 trails and 99% of terrain open.
Eldora: 50-inch base; 10 lifts, 64 trails and 98% of terrain open.
Keystone: 40-inch base; 20 lifts, 121 trails and 94% of terrain open.
Loveland: 48-inch base; 10 lifts, 79 trails and 84% of terrain open.
Steamboat: 84-inch base; 16 lifts, 169 trails and 98% of terrain open.
Vail: 53-inch base; 30 lifts, 195 trails and 100% of terrain open.
Winter Park: 60-inch base; 20 lifts, 164 trails and 99% of terrain open.