Ski area tops 400-inch plateau |

Ski area tops 400-inch plateau

Steamboat Ski Area reaches threshold for 2nd straight season

Steamboat Springs snowboarder Ory Garrett goes for a grab after hitting a jump in the Little Rodeo Terrain Park on Friday afternoon at Steamboat Ski Area. The ski area reported it exceeded 400 inches of snow for the season Friday.

— Skiers and snowboarders are having a final fling this weekend with a season that has seen more than 400 inches of snow – just the seventh time that has happened at Steamboat Ski Area since 1980.

The ski area reported 4 inches of new snow overnight Thursday at mid-mountain, enough to put Steamboat Ski Area over the top for the third time in four years. The new snow translated into a season total of 403.5 inches. The mountain closes for the year Sunday.

Christina Uhl has been around Steamboat long enough to know how special this is. She couldn’t believe the snow she skied on the last day of March – in the afternoon, no less.

“Monday, March 30, and then March 31 were the most epic days of the season,” Uhl said Friday. “I had knee-deep fresh tracks at 3 p.m., right off Vagabond. I couldn’t believe it.”

Two days remain in the season as Steamboat prepares for an Easter Sunday closing. Barring 20 inches of additional powder this weekend, the winter of 2008-09 is poised to take its place as the seventh snowiest since 1980. The winter of 1992-93 has a strong hold on sixth place with 423.5 inches.

The measure of a snow season worthy of telling your grandkids about always has been the vaunted 400-inch mark. It came about this winter thanks to 100 inches in December and 109 inches in January. The foundation of this 400-inch season was early snowfall of 4.75 inches in October and 35.25 in November. February tapered off to 47.25 inches, but March rebounded with 43 inches in its final week and a total of 72.5 to put 400 inches in reach again.

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Dan Miller won’t soon forget the untracked powder he encountered in the trees on Pioneer Ridge after the March 30 storm.

Miller knew exactly where he was headed when the summit received 16 inches.

“I went to Pioneer Ridge and skied the trees in Outhouse,” Miller said. “It wasn’t like January or February snow, but it was just untracked, deep, beautiful snow.”

Steamboat Ski Area spokesman Mike Lane said April 2008, when the ski area closed a week earlier than it will this year, was virtually a non-factor in the record-setting season. However, April 2009 was very good to Steamboat, including an April Fools’ Day dump.

“April this year and April last year were like the opposite of each other,” Lane said.

The snow events that really put Steamboat within reach of a 400-inch season took place April 1 and 2.

In terms of the record books, it was the mid-mountain totals of 14 and 5 inches that mattered. But for skiers and snowboarders, it was the 17 and 11 inches that fell at the summit that made their day and put the final touches on the seventh snowiest season at Steamboat in three decades.

The roster of 400-inch seasons includes the record snowfall of 489 inches in the winter of 2007-08. Others include: 1996-97 with 447.75 inches, 1983-84 with 447.5, 1995-96 with 441.25, 2005-06 with 432, and 1992-93 with 423.5

By the numbers

– Monthly snow totals at the Steamboat Ski Area, winter 2008-09 (in inches)

October 4.75

November 35.25

December 100

January 109

February 47.25

March 72.25

April* 35

*As of April 10. Closing day is April 12.

– Number of powder days of 4 inches or more at mid-mountain: 51

– Number of powder days of 10 or more inches at mid-mountain: 11

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