Steamboat Living: Quick Hits – Hero to zero snow years make 2013 hard to predict |

Steamboat Living: Quick Hits – Hero to zero snow years make 2013 hard to predict

If ever there were two schizophrenic snow seasons in Steamboat, it was the back-to-back winters of 2010-11 and 2011-12. While both entered the record books, they did so for markedly different reasons — the former for its bounty and the latter for its bleakness.

The 2010-11 season was unprecedented — including a 433-inch ski season, a 90-inch record November and a May snow stake on Buff Pass registering 732 percent of average, the deepest snowpack in Colorado history. Someone even put a snorkel on the Buddy Werner statue atop Mount Werner. Fast forward a year, and it was the exact opposite. Despite a 24-hour midmountain record 27 inches on Presidents Day, the same snow stake on Buff Pass clocked in at just 7 percent of average in May, and the resort tallied just 228 inches.

"The past two years couldn't have been more different," says Art Judson, a former avalanche forecaster and climatological observer for the National Weather Service.

So what does all of this spell for this year? Who knows. While old-timers might watch this year's skunk cabbage, woolly bear caterpillar's stripes, hay crop harvest, blackbird migration and beaver dam height, here's our prediction: It won't be any worse than last year or any better than the year before.

"The good news is we've never had two record low years in a row," Judson says.

Our advice? Stock up on P-tex and powder snorkels.

Monthly snowfall

Measurements in inches

Month 2010-11 2011-12

October 21 8

November 90 38.5

December 73 24.5

January 68 39

February 84 93

March 79 21

April 18 4

Total 433 228

Biggest months

Month Inches Year

October 27 2006

November 90 2010

December 165.5 1983

January 216.5 1996

February 110.5 1993

March 83 1991

April 60 1993