After first stellar snow storm of season, Steamboat may be in line for another
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The snow event Steamboat Springs had been waiting for did not disappoint over the weekend, with Steamboat Ski Resort reporting 26 total inches from the storm at midmountain and 47 inches at the summit.
The National Weather Service reported about 20 inches near the bottom of the resort and about 10 inches closer to downtown Steamboat.
After an abysmal January for snow, February has started off better, said Tom Renwick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. Steamboat averages 41.7 inches of snow in January, the snowiest month traditionally, but saw less than half of that last month with just 19.3 inches falling.
“That is not just (Steamboat); that is everywhere. It was just a skunk month,” Renwick said.
But February is shaping up to be a productive month for snow as there have already been 14.3 inches, almost double the average at this point in the month. There is another storm expected Tuesday before another weekend system could bring similar amounts as last weekend.
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“We’re definitely in a favorable storm track,” said Mike Weissbluth, a local meteorologist who runs the forecasting website snowalarm.com. “I look out 16 days, and that is always fantasy land at that period, but it is looking good.”
A high-pressure system building will keep things dry Monday before a smaller system moves through Tuesday. Renwick said snow would likely be limited to higher elevations.
|Snowfall in Steamboat Springs near downtown this season compared to average. (Source: National Weather Service)|
|2020-21 Snowfall||Month||Average Snowfall|
|14.3||February (so far)||7.5|
|89.5||Total season so far||119.5|
Weissbluth said how much snow will come Tuesday has a lot to do with how much moisture will be over the area, but right now, he is forecasting 4 to 8 inches at midmountain.
It will be partly to mostly cloudy for most of the week, Renwick said, but temperatures will have highs in the 30s for most of the week before the weekend system brings in cooler air.
Another smaller system will come in Thursday night into Friday, which is when the more significant snow will start falling. Renwick said a stronger system will arrive Friday around daybreak and continue for most of the weekend.
“That could be substantial,” Renwick said. “I think the models have been fairly consistent bringing in that Northwesterly flow, which is always good for (Steamboat).”
Friday afternoon into the evening looks to be when the snow will fall the strongest, but another wave looks to come through Sunday.
“It certainly has the potential to be similar to what we just had, especially if we get that Sunday wave,” Weissbluth said. “Let’s just say, it could be another significant storm cycle.”
Long-range models look favorable for February’s outlook, too, with several other systems lined up behind next weekend’s storm, potentially setting the area up for a series of dumps of new snow.
“There is that system coming in for the weekend, and then it looks like another one a couple of days after that, and another one coming after that,” Renwick said. “It starts to get what we call a progressive pattern where these systems come in every couple of days.”
New snow has made for dangerous avalanche conditions across Colorado, but especially the northern mountains. The Steamboat and Flat Tops region as well as the Vail and Summit county region of mountains are in an avalanche warning until at least Sunday night. Even after the warning expires, avalanche risk remains high.
A skier was killed in a backcountry avalanche near Vail last Thursday, bringing the total deaths this season in Colorado to eight, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
“These conditions are very dangerous and will be until fetches are blown out, and loading slows down,” wrote Kreston Rohrig, a member of the northern mountains group for the center. “The only way to stay safe is not to risk being in or around avalanche terrain. Manage your terrain choices to avoid run-outs and stick to slopes less than 30 degrees.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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