A Preview of Winter Hits the Rockies

by Dan Giesin | October 9, 2018

Mother Nature provided a tantalizing look at winter over the past week in the mountains of the West.
A cold and slow-moving storm has put a significant coating of snow on much of the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains from southeastern British Columbia and western Alberta all the way down to nearly the Mexico-U.S. border.
Nearly two feet of the stuff has fallen on many Canadian ski and snowboard resorts, including Nakiska, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village, and in the Wind River range in Wyoming; more than enough to allow Silverton resort in Colorado to fire up its lift and let the ski patrol have some fun in the fluff (pictured above), and an impressive amount — more than a foot — at Brian Head in southern Utah and at Arizona Snowbowl near Flagstaff.
“You have to love it,” say Joe Gratz, chief meteorologist of Colorado-based OpenSnow, a winter forecasting company, “when a storm brings snow from Canada all the way to the southwestern states of the U.S.”

Avalanche warning

Some folks were loving it a bit too much, and putting themselves in harm’s way. So Kananaskis Country, which lies west of Calgary and includes Nakiska and Fortress Mountain resorts,  issued an avalanche warning — intended mostly for climbers and back-country skiers — on Canada’s Thanksgiving Day, Oct. 8.
“We want to you to be safe and enjoy your turkey,” a Kananaskis Country official said.
The storm is expected to hang around in the central Rockies for the next several days, with one meteorological model saying up to 18 inches of snow will fall in the mountains of Montana, Wyoming and Colorado by the end of the week. The seven-day forecast, issued by the National Weather on Oct. 9, said the greatest chance of significant accumulation at such resorts as Jackson Hole, Steamboat and Vail will occur Thursday into early Friday morning.
“Through Friday, Oct. 12, the storm over the Rocky Mountains will linger,” says Gratz, “and snow will likely fall every day of the week.’

Reality bites

But don’t get too amped up about breaking out the boards. Reality — in the guise of Indian Summer — returns fairly quickly.
“It looks like we’ll transition from winter back to autumn,” says Gratz, “with warmer than average weather for much fo the United States and Canada into mid-October.”
Mother Nature is such a tease.

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