There's no question that skiing is one of the most weather-dependent sports you'll find. After all, it has to be cold and snowy for an optimal experience. Luckily, the Colorado high country consistently provides exactly the right mix of conditions for most of the winter — plenty of cold, sunny days and regular storm cycles that drop skiffs of powder every few days, at least during a “normal” winter.
Nevertheless, the question of, “What's the weather going to be like” is frequently raised by folks making reservations for a Copper Mountain Condo. Or when they're in the planning stages of a trip, it helps to know what to pack.
Here's a month-by-month guide to Copper Mountain weather:
NOVEMBER - As a transition month, November highs at Copper Mountain can range from the 40s to the teens, and during the rare November cold snap, as low as the single digits but the average temperature on the mountain is likely to be in the 20s to low 30s. As the nights get longer, they also get colder. Average overnight lows are in the teens, but frequently start to drop down into the single digits toward the end of the month, and sub-zero lows are not out of the question. It's not a particulary snowy month, but when a front does roll in, it can feel like mid-winter, regardless of what the calendar says.
DECEMBER - Snowfall starts to pick up in December, when it's not unusual to see 40 to 50 inches of snow pile up at Copper Mountain. Average high temperatures at the ski area are in the teens and 20s, although they can, and often do, bust over the freezing mark on sunny afternoons. But December can also bring cold snaps, when highs only reach the single-digits or teens for several days in a row, so you have to be prepared for full-on winter conditions. The cold snaps are hard to predict more than a few days in advance; that's why it's important to make sure you have all your warmest gear, but include enough layers so that you can be comfortable if you hit a wamer period. Overnight lows in December average somewhere in the single-digits and low teens, and frequently drop to around zero. Sub-zero readings are not uncommon, so those first few runs of the day are likely to be chilly.
JANUARY - It's the coldest month of the year, without a doubt, when high temperatures are hard-pressed to get above the freezing mark. Average highs are just in the teens, perhaps nudging into the low 20s, and overnight lows are consistently around zero. Of course, this is also when you'll find the best powder at Copper Mountain, but make sure you have a face mask, warm mittens and a hat that covers your ears — and make sure you heed the frostbite warnings from ski patrol, especially for the younger skiers in your group! Copper Mountain does experience the occasional January thaw, when the thermometer suddenly climbs up into the upper 30s or maybe even the 40s for a couple of days, but those cycles are very irregular and hard to forecast.
FEBRUARY — The last full month of winter is also the start of the snowiest time at Copper Mountain, and big dumps of snow are not uncommon. Instead of the 3-inch January dustings, 10 or 12 inches might fall at a time, making for fantastic ski conditions and hazardous driving. But average high temperatures start to creep back up toward the freezing mark, hovering somewhere in the mid- to upper 20s for most of the month. Overnight lows are still chilly, dropping to well below freezing every night. Especially at the end of the month, it's not unusual to see highs hit the upper 30s and even low 40s for a few days, offering a first taste of spring conditions. but there can also be cold snaps, especially right after a storm, when highs might only hit the teens, so if you're skiing in February, be prepared for a variety of weather!
MARCH - This may have been a bad month for Julius Caesar, but it's the month that every skier and snowboarder looks forward to. Historically, March is the snowiest month around Summit County, and it's common for three, four or even five FEET of snow to pile up on the higher slopes. Of course not every year brings that much precipitation, but if it's powder you're after, March is your best bet. Average high temperatures once again inch up, starting in the mid-20s early in the month, but regularly topping the freezing mark by the time the equinox rolls around March 21. In nearby Dillon, at the official weather station, the average daily high for March is nearly 40 degrees. Overnight lows drop below freezing every night, and the mornings are still chilly, so the snow can be hard and fast for those first few runs.
APRIL - April swings both ways, sometimes showing a soft, warm side, other times bringing one last blast of winter, with big snowfalls and chilly north winds as the last few Arctic fronts blow through. But in general, highs average in the mid- to upper-30s, and when the sun is out it definitely feels like spring. But you still have to be prepared for a winter blast, though the cold readings likely won't last more than a few days. Overnight lows average in the 20s and teens, but the sun is up early, and by the time the lifts start, it will feel seasonably warm.