After all the wind and below-normal temperatures to start the week, a major weather change begins today and continues through Easter Sunday and into early next week. Starting Thursday, airflow comes in from the warm southwest, making it downright toasty for early April. No doubt, spring fever will be rampant by the end of the weekend. Temperatures by Sunday could be as much as 20 to 25 degrees above normal. While this does nothing to help the snowpack, it is a chance to get outdoors and bask in all that sunshine until cold and snow returns – which everyone knows will occur eventually. Conditions will be very spring-like, with the snow starting out slick and crusty, but turning mushy by the middle of the day. For this Easter weekend, put on the sunscreen, bring out the brimmed hats and enjoy this wonderful bout of spring weather.
Time is running out to enjoy the slopes at the Snowy Range Ski and Recreation Area. The last day this season is April 11, so this is the final week to relish the groomed slopes and get some of that sunshine over the next few days. The snow base hit triple digits this past week, with more than 100 inches of snow. There’s plenty of coverage, and skiers report excellent conditions.
Wind and snow hit northwest Wyoming to start the week, but the warming trend starting today arrives in that part of the state as well. Grand Targhee, on the west side of Teton Pass, saw 5 inches of snow since the weekend, with only 1 inch in the forecast between now and Saturday. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort received 10 inches of snow since the weekend, and is forecast to have nothing but blue skies through the weekend.
Sunshine will also be in order for most Colorado ski resorts heading into Easter weekend. Some flurries could arrive in the central mountains between now and the weekend, but new snow depths should be minimal. Winter Park reported 13 inches of snow since last weekend, and is forecast to get a few inches today and tomorrow and then clear skies reign. Steamboat saw 6 inches since last weekend, with no new snow in the forecast on into the weekend. Its final day of operation is April 11, so hit the slopes next week before it’s too late.
Snow flurries graced the Medicine Bow Mountains off and on this past week. The snowpack is at 114% of normal, the same as last week. At Keystone, near Rob Roy Reservoir, there has been a total of 232 inches of snow so far this season, according to Don Day Jr. at www.dayweather.com. This is an increase of 14 inches since last week. This is close to the 245 inches by this time last year, and ahead of the 206 inches reported in 2019.
There’s been new snow and strong winds to start the week “up top” in the Snowy Range. That should provide decent coverage heading into the weekend, when skies clear and temperatures turn downright balmy, even at the higher elevations.
Personnel at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center report the avalanche danger for the southern Wyoming and northern Colorado mountains is rated “low” below treeline and “moderate” near and above treeline. Keep an eye out for fresh, wind-drifted slabs below ridgelines. Due to the extreme winds last Monday, these slabs might be in odd places and farther down on the slopes. In areas with a shallow snowpack, when the depth is less than 3 feet, there is the potential to trigger an avalanche that breaks at the ground. Very steep, rocky slopes with stiff layers in the middle of the snowpack are the most suspect.
There are no recent reports from backcountry skiers heading out from the Green Rock Trailhead off of Highway 130, but expect very good conditions with a touch of winter early in the week giving way to spring.
Coverage is likely getting thin, with bare spots starting to crop up, on the Barber Lake Trail and at the lower-elevation trails at Corner Mountain. These trails are user-packed, with no grooming.
There’s good coverage on the trails at Chimney Park, off of Highway 230 with a 30-inch base. Heavy use in wet snow one day can result in very rough conditions to start the next day. Ski, snowshoe and foot tracks freeze solid overnight, making conditions particularly rough on the popular Woods Creek Loop. Other loops farther from the trailhead are much smoother with user-packed ski tracks.
Spring has sprung on the trails at Happy Jack Recreation Area. Thanks to the big snow dump a couple weeks ago, coverage of the Nordic ski trails is still good. It gets crusty overnight, making for rather fast and tricky conditions to start the day. Grooming efforts help break up the crust, and recently included setting some classic tracks. Conditions not only change day by day, but hour by hour.
Grooming continues on the multi-use trails, although conditions get tough for snowbikes when it warms. The strong winds early in the week knocked quite a few trees down, but those should be cleared by the weekend.
The U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service snow measuring stations report 61 inches of snow at Cinnabar Park, a 3-inch increase from last week. The station at Brooklyn Lake reports 74 inches of snow, a 3-inch increase from last week. On the north end of the range, the station at Sand Lake shows 95 inches of snow, an increase of 5 inches from a week ago. The station at Medicine Bow, at an elevation of 10,500 feet, reports 105 inches of snow, an increase of 6 inches from last week. The station at North French Creek, on the west side of the Medicine Bow Mountains, reports 82 inches of snow, an increase of 6 inches from last week. The Crow Creek station on Pole Mountain shows 21 inches of snow, a decrease of 2 inches from last week.
Pole Mountain/Happy Jack Recreation Area Nordic ski trails: Spring conditions with crusty and icy surfaces early, but softening as the day progresses; daily grooming continues.
Pole Mountain Multi-Use Trails: Grooming continues for those using snowbikes, snowshoes or traveling on foot; spring conditions with crust in the morning and slush by afternoon.
Chimney Park Nordic ski trails: Very good conditions, but some routes get rough due to high use and the process of freezing overnight and melting in the day; routes are user-packed.
Snowy Range backcountry conditions: Expect outstanding crust skiing early in the day; likely turning soft and slushy, especially heading into this weekend.
Snowy Range: Expect spring conditions with slick surfaces early in the day, turning soft and slushy as the day warms.
Quick Numbers Wyoming Downhill Areas
Snowy Range Ski Area: 101-inch base; 5 lifts, 33 runs and 100% of terrain open.
Grand Targhee: 109-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: 98-inch base; 13 lifts, 112 trails and 84% of terrain open.
Sleeping Giant: Closed for the season.
Snow King: Closed for the season.
Colorado Downhill Areas
Arapahoe Basin: 56-inch base; 9 lifts, 144 trails and 99% of terrain open.
Breckenridge: 60-inch base; 32 lifts, 178 trails and 95% of terrain open.
Copper Mountain: 49-inch base; 23 lifts, 143 trails and 91% of terrain open.
Eldora: 60-inch base; 10 lifts, 65 trails and 100% of terrain open.
Keystone: 55-inch base; 15 lifts, 128 trails and 99% of terrain open.
Loveland: 60-inch base; 10 lifts, 88 trails and 94% of terrain open.
Steamboat: 77-inch base; 15 lifts, 169 trails and 98% of terrain open.
Vail: 56-inch base; 26 lifts, 195 trails and 100% of terrain open.
Winter Park: 82-inch base; 23 lifts, 165 trails and 98% of terrain open.