Winter storm warning back this week in Aspen, mountain areas; up to 2 feet of snow in higher elevations |

Winter storm warning back this week in Aspen, mountain areas; up to 2 feet of snow in higher elevations

Staff reports
Snow predictions through May 22, 2019.
National Weather Service

Winter wants to stick around a little longer this week as a winter storm has been upgraded to a warning starting at noon Monday for Aspen, Snowmass and much of the Colorado mountains above 8,500 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

Two strong Pacific storms will roll through the western United States this week and drastically change the mountain forecast.

In an updated issued just after 3 p.m. Sunday, the weather service said heavy snow at times will occur starting Monday with “snow accumulations of 10 to 20 inches expected above 9,000 feet with lesser accumulations down to 7,000 feet especially on Monday night. Locally higher amounts are possible over the highest peaks.”

The warning lasts until 6 p.m. Tuesday and then a brief break before the second storm hits the area Tuesday night and last into at least Thursday.

The weather service predicts strong wind gusts nearing 35-50 mph and temperatures all week to be “20 to 25 degrees below normal for this time of year.” Highs in Aspen are expected to be in the mid-40s to 50 degrees for the week.

“The snow levels will start out above 9,000 feet late (Sunday), but drop to around 7,500 feet by Monday morning,” the NWS’s Grand Junction office said Sunday afternoon. “Thereafter, the snow level will fluctuate between 7,000 and 9,000 feet through Thursday. Snow accumulations will be greatest above 9,000 feet where 1 to 2 feet of fresh snow is possible through the week.”

That is good news for skiers and boarders who plan to head to Aspen Mountain for a bonus weekend. The Aspen Skiing Co. announced last week it would open 130 acres at the top of Ajax for the Memorial Day Weekend (Saturday through Monday).

At lower elevations this week the weather service is predicting up to an inch of rainfall.

The weather services also is warning backcountry adventurers to be prepared for “winter conditions not normally seen this time of year.”

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center said Sunday backcountry trips will become more dangerous as new snow falls on the old snowpack. The agency said avalanche danger will become considerable (level 3 of 5) by Tuesday.

“You could trigger large avalanches in the storm snow on very steep slopes with more than about a foot of recent snow. You will want to choose your terrain carefully and cautiously,” the CAIC said Sunday. “Evaluate the snowpack frequently, both as you travel from slope to slope and from hour to hour as the snow piles up. … The winds are drifting all the new snow onto many slopes. You will be able to trigger avalanches in the drifted snow.”