2022-23 officially second snowiest season on record at Steamboat Resort
Snowpack in Northwest Colorado might have peaked earlier this month
Five inches of snow falling ahead of closing day made 2023 the second snowiest season ever recorded at Steamboat Resort.
Flakes fell throughout Friday, April 14, and continued into early Saturday, April 15, bringing the mid-mountain snow total on Steamboat’s snow report to 448 inches.
There are some discrepancies on the resort’s snow report at Steamboat.com/the-mountain/mountain-report, as the sum of monthly totals is 459 inches. Nevertheless, 448 was all that was needed to become the second snowiest season at the resort, according to data collected by the resort since 1980.
In order to become the second snowiest season on record, this year’s snowfall had to surpass the 447.75 inches that collected at mid-mountain in the 1996-97 season.
The record of 489 inches set in 2007-08 will continue to stand at least for another year, as the resort will close on Sunday, April 16, and stop documenting snowfall.
April’s 26 inches of snow, or wintry mix if you will, is the eighth most in that month since 1980. The snowiest April came in 1993 when 60 inches were recorded.
March’s 74 inches were the most since 2016 and only in five previous years did more snow fall that month.
The warm weather has prompted melting across the area, causing swells in area waterways and flooding in Hayden.
While the melt was slowed by Friday’s snow and cold temperatures, the fluffy stuff is diminishing quickly. The snowpack or snow water equivalent in the Yampa, White, Little Snake Basin seems to have peaked on April 7, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture.
The presumed peak, which came 24 hours before the median peak based on 30-year averages, was 30.1 inches.
The past two years peaked at 18 inches, or just below. The last year to have a similar peak was 1997.
Between April 1 and 8, the area had record snow water equivalent as the measurement surpassed 29 inches and reached 30. With the melt, the 2023 snowpack is back below the record trajectory, which was set in 2011.
River and waterway levels are higher than normal as the above-average snowfall starts to melt.
Yampa River flow hit 817 cubic feet per second on Thursday evening, April 13, which is four times greater than the flow of 204 cfs on the same day the year before, according to U.S. Geological Survey data.
The Elk River hit a high flow of 1,700 cfs on Friday, April 14, more than six times the flow on the same day in 2022. Water flows in both rivers have since dipped with cooler temperatures, but early next week, they will likely rise again.
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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