Steamboat sees record-low January snowfall

Matt Stensland
Despite record-low snow fall in January, nearly all the terrain at Steamboat Ski Area remains open.
Matt Stensland

— It’s sadly official: Steamboat Ski Area had the worst January in terms of snowfall.

Despite light snowfall Saturday morning, the ski area measured no new snow at 5 a.m. That brings the January total to 11.75 inches, well below the previous worst January when 17 inches fell in 1981. The ski area began keeping snow records in 1979.

On average, the ski area gets 74.78 inches of snow in January. The mid-mountain snow measurements are taken at 9,080 feet.

Despite the lack of snow, nearly all the terrain at the ski area is open.

Brown hillsides are beginning to appear at lower elevations in the city of Steamboat Springs, where the official elevation is 6,732 feet.

The city also experienced historical bad snow totals.

The official National Weather Service measuring station in Steamboat measured 0.5 inches of of new snow Saturday morning, for a January total of 6.6 inches. That means January had the lowest snowfall since January 1898, when 5 inches was recorded.

Steamboat is not the only ski area experiencing lackluster snow. Numerous ski areas in California have been forced to close for the season. In Colorado, Winter Park measured 27.5 inches of snow in January, below the 10-year January average of 49.6 inches. So far for the season, Winter Park has gotten 161.5 inches of snow, close to the average of 164.5 inches.

“While we haven’t necessarily gotten the snow in January, we’ve still gotten it and conditions have been pretty good,” Winter Park spokesman Steve Hurlbert said.

Since Winter Park started closely measuring snow in 1975, the lowest amount of snow Winter Park received in January was in 2013, when 24 inches was measured.

In addition to the lack of snowfall, Steamboat was warmer than normal. The average high temperature through the last morning of this January was 34 degrees. The average for January is 28.9 degrees.

There have been 10 warmer January months, according to records going back to 1893.

In 1981, the average high temperature was 42.8 degrees. That January, the ski area received 17 inches of snow.

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

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