Winter Solstice Arrives with Fresh Snow, Full Moon
The winter storms are stacking up nicely as the seasons set up for this Friday’s winter solstice. Residents and visitors will see a steady snowfall throughout the day, adding to the 3 – 5 inches that fell overnight throughout Lake County.
Also, in anticipation of this Friday’s Winter Solstice on December 21, Mother Nature will arrive with an early Yuletide gift to lay beneath Leadville’s stealthy pines. But you’ll have to look up to see it. While the winter solstice is often touted as the shortest day of the year, the good news is that means it’s also the longest night of the year. And this Saturday, the waning crescent phase of the lunar orb will be lighting up all that fresh snow with its majestic beacons. If the skies clear, stargazers can check out the full moon named the Cold Moon or the Long Night Moon on December 22.
A Birdseye View of Snowy Harrison Avenue
Of course, the arrival of both – snow and the full moon – has outdoor winter enthusiasts flocking to Leadville to take advantage of great early-season conditions and maybe a midnight, moonlight Christmas Eve snowshoe through some of the Rocky Mountains most beautiful terrain. And at 10,152 feet, it’s all natural snow! Whether you’re hopping on the fat bike to take a spin on Leadville’s legendary Mineral Belt Trail (MBT) or strapping on the skinny skis to skate the groomed trails out at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center, cold-weather athletes can see that Leadville has its winter whites on for the season – which around these parts can last until June!
“Business has been good, and people got excited with all of that early October snow,” said Paul Copper owner of Bill’s Rentals which has been operating in Leadville since 1945. “For the newbies, this is what we call a real Leadville winter!” Copper said, referring to the early significant snowfall, followed by deep-freeze temperatures which kept the snow in place, likely to remain in some spots until June. In addition, Copper attributes this year’s strong ski and board rental business to last year when Ski Cooper was the only resort with early snow.
“People discovered Leadville and Ski Cooper last year, and a lot of those customers are returning this year,” explained Copper from his ski rental shop, conveniently located for easy in and out access at the junction of Highways 24 and 92, north of Leadville.
Forecasters are calling for more snow this weekend, beginning Friday night into Saturday night. But the sunshine returns early next week and if the weather predictors are correct, Christmas Day looks pretty perfect, with bluebird skies, plenty of sunshine and lots of fresh snow!
Stay tuned to Leadville Today for this weekend’s Lead Vegas Report, keeping you informed on all of the fun, festive holiday happenings in town. Then on Sunday Leadville Today will publish its annual All Ye Faithful report which will list local church services for Christmas Eve and Day. Enjoy the season. There’s so much to do!
No Avalanche Warnings, New System on Deck
According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), here is the weather forecast for Colorado for the next several days, with the specific snow and wind data for the Sawatch Range which includes Leadville and Lake County at the end of the report.
A strong jet stream is currently moving into Colorado from the northwest. Winds at the upper levels are forecast to be 150 to 160 knots which will translate to 70 mph gusts for a good portion of our mountains. Moisture is limited and trapped at the lower levels but with favorable orographics in northwest flow we should still see 2 to 6 inches for the Northern Mountains and 1 to 3 inches for the Central Mountains. Snowfall rates increase in the Park Range early this morning with higher snowfall rates near I-70 late morning. The highest wind gusts follow snowfall and last through the evening. Not much snow will fall in the Southern Mountains except for an inch or two from Red Mountain Pass north. Windy conditions for the Southern Mountains as well but the strongest winds stay north.
The atmosphere dries out quickly this evening although snow showers may linger across the Northern Mountains. By tomorrow morning all of Colorado clears out and sunny skies prevail statewide. Windy conditions continue but nowhere near the winds seen previously. The high-pressure ridge that moves in Thursday flattens by Friday putting us under a more zonal, westerly flow. Several disturbances are lined up to move through Colorado over the next week with the first small system forecast for Friday and the second slightly stronger system for late-Saturday into Sunday.