‘Modest accumulations at best’ with weekend storm

Matt Stensland
Amanda Taglioli and her dog Maggie make their way along Routt County Road 42 on Thursday morning. Taglioli said she was making the most of the Yampa Valley's warm weather, despite the patches of mud along the road.
John F. Russell

— Hope is dying that January 2015 will be spared the reputation of being the driest January in the history of the Steamboat Ski Area, with records going back to 1979.

Some moisture is expected to move into the area Friday night, but the storm is expected to favor Colorado’s southern mountains with moisture creeping up north.

“Due to the warm nature of the storm and lack of much wind, I expect modest accumulations at best, with optimistically around one to four inches falling by Saturday morning,” wrote meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who runs

By 6 a.m. Saturday, the ski area needs more than 6.25 inches of snow to fall if it wants to beat the previous driest January, which was in 1981, when 17 inches of snow fell.

The ski area has measured 10.75 inches of snow at mid-mountain this January, which on average sees 74.78 inches of snow. Snow was last measured Jan. 22 with 0.25 inches. Before that, it was Jan. 20 when 1 inch was measured.

Meteorologist Joel Gratz, with, was hoping the weekend storm would bring good amounts of snow to all Colorado mountains.

“I thought that there was a scenario where the entire state could sneak out some good snow from the upcoming weekend storm, and that next week’s northwest flow could be a nice event for the northern and perhaps central mountains,” Gratz wrote Thursday. “Unfortunately, the midday model updates on Wednesday discounted my positive outlook, pushing the weekend storm further south, and next week’s northwest flow further north.”

The lack of snow has not meant skiing conditions have been bad. Essentially 100 percent of the terrain at the ski area in Steamboat is open. The Sunnyside trail below the Elkhead lift still is closed.

“There is plenty of snow to ski, it’s just not the powder that we all hope to see,” Gratz wrote.

Moving into next week and the start of February, Gratz wrote that the main storm track is expected to be north of Colorado.

“My expectations are low for next week, but I’m keeping an eye on it because there could be a gem of a day in there somewhere,” Gratz wrote.

Light to moderate snow is possible during the beginning of next week, according to Gratz and Weissbluth.

“Additional weaker waves of energy are forecast for most of the rest of the workweek, leading to the possibility of additional light snow, though it is not clear if these will be productive as they battle with the flattened West Coast ridge,” Weissbluth wrote.

Besides moisture, Steamboat has seen a warmer January than normal. As of Thursday, the average high temperature this month was 33.6 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Based on historical records going back to 1894, the average high temperature for Steamboat in January is 28.9 degrees.

In January 1981, when only 17 inches of snow fell at the ski area, the average high temperature was 42.8 degrees.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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