Steamboat should see another winter storm starting Wednesday
December 25, 2012
Steamboat Springs — After a storm that dropped 6 to 7 inches of snow in Steamboat Springs and 11 inches at midmountain at Steamboat Ski Area, the skies cleared Christmas morning over Routt County.
But the sunny skies won't last long as another storm is forecast to move into Northwest Colorado on Wednesday.
The trough of low pressure should move from west to east across the state, said Matthew Aleksa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, which issued a hazardous weather outlook and a winter weather advisory.
The Christmas storm that brought widespread snowfall across the state followed a similar track, and Steamboat was one of the greater beneficiaries.
The system that arrives Wednesday is forecast to be a prolonged storm but bring less overall snowfall.
"It’s a big system," Aleksa said. "It lingers for a while. It's kind of slow moving."
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The mountains could see snowfall continuing into Friday morning, Aleksa said, but the longer duration should result in periods of lighter snowfall starting Wednesday afternoon.
Six to 12 inches are predicted for the mountains around Steamboat. In the valley, the storm could bring about 3 to 6 inches from Wednesday into Thursday night.
Steamboat-based meteorologist Mike Weissbluth wrote in an email that he predicts "significant dry and light accumulations through this period, especially late Thursday."
Looking into next week, Aleksa said there's a system dropping out of the Gulf of Alaska, but the forecast models are not in agreement about where it's headed or whether it will move far enough north to affect Steamboat.
For those in Routt County looking to enjoy the holiday snow, avalanche danger has been moved back up to "considerable" for the Steamboat Zone.
A Colorado Avalanche Information Center avalanche discussion states that the low-density powder from the recent storm is sitting on "small surface hoar and near surface" facets.
Human-triggered avalanches are possible on slopes steeper than 35 degrees, and natural avalanches are possible.
Also a concern in the backcountry are persistent slabs, where snowfall from multiple storms has accumulated on top of weak snow from November, according the the Avalanche Information Center discussion.
Avalanches triggered in shallow areas above the treeline could break into deeper snow that has not slid this season.
To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com