Bundle up for Halloween: Cold temps in Routt County are breaking records
Steamboat Resort has also broken its record for October snowfall
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Yampa Valley residents are getting chills, and it’s not just from the spooky season.
Wednesday morning’s cold temperatures broke the record for coldest Oct. 30 temperature in Steamboat Springs and tied for the same record in Hayden. Previously, the coldest Oct. 29 in Steamboat was 4 degrees in 1971 and minus 1 in Hayden in 1971.
“Even in a midwinter January day, this is a cold winter day,” said local meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who runs snowalarm.com.
Temperatures are expected to keep plunging.
The weather service forecasts a low of minus 10 in Steamboat Springs, minus 9 in Hayden and minus 7 in Oak Creek and Yampa on Wednesday night. These would break Halloween’s minimum temperature records of 4 degrees in Steamboat in 1924, minus 6 in Hayden in 1935 and minus 3 in Yampa in 1979. It’s also well below the average minimum temperature on Halloween, which is around 22 degrees in Steamboat.
“We have cold air that’s from the North Pole, or near the North Pole, so the area is extremely cold to begin with, even with clouds,” Weissbluth said.
He explained that without clouds to insulate the ground, the fresh snow cover radiates the cool temperatures “very efficiently” and causes temperatures to plummet.
Trick-or-treaters should be prepared to bundle up, either in a cozy costume or with lots of layers underneath. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-20s around 6 p.m. on Halloween and fall into the teens by 8 p.m, according to the National Weather Service.
In the last three days, most of the Yampa Valley has received about 8 inches of snow. Parts of South Routt received 6 inches, while the Continental Divide received 18 to 24 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
While the cold will remain, the snow has departed, at least for the time being. Sunny or mostly sunny skies are in the forecast through Sunday.
Steamboat has seen nearly three times its average October snowfall. In town, 18.6 inches have fallen this October at the National Weather Service’s Cooperative Observer Network Weather Station near Steamboat Springs High School. The station receives an average of 6.7 inches of snow.
Steamboat Resort has tracked snow depth at mid-mountain since 1996, according to Steamboat’s Director of Communications Loryn Duke. The 63 inches it’s received near Thunderhead Lodge this month marks the snowiest October on record at the ski area.
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“We are excited for Opening Day, and we’re ready to get skiers and snowboarders out on the mountain,” Duke said. “It’s always great to have a snowy October. What’s been really beneficial about this October is that the snow that has fallen has remained on the mountain — even that early October snowstorm we got. That snow will be part of the foundation that we’re building for the entire season. All of that makes for a really exciting preseason.”
With negative overnight temperatures and daytime temperatures in the teens, the resort is also able to make more manmade snow.
Weissbluth said this cold and early-season snow makes for good skiing while it lasts, though any warm temperatures will harden it up into a base layer for this winter’s snowfall. If you plan to take advantage of it, plan to head to the backcountry.
Between snowmaking, completing installation of the new gondola and other preparations for the winter, Duke said there is a lot of equipment on the mountain that makes skiing or riding there dangerous.
“All this snow can be very enticing for people who are excited for the season to start, but we strongly discourage people from accessing the mountain,” Duke said. “We have so many machines out there right now. We have wench-cats working and snowmaking hoses and construction on the gondola. There’s so much activity on the mountain, that it’s not really safe for people to be trying to get in some early season turns, so we are encouraging people to wait until Opening Day.”
Weissbluth said conditions are also right for inversions, which occur when warm air traps cool air in mountain valleys. That means temperatures at elevation could be warmer than they are on the valley floor. If you’re looking to get away from the frigid cold, a day of backcountry skiing could be a good way to do that.
Temperatures will creep back above freezing in the daytime Friday, according to the weather service. Saturday and Sunday are forecast to be sunny and in the low 40s.
Though it will get warmer, Weissbluth guesses that snow might melt off south-facing slopes while it still sticks on the colder, north slopes that receive less sunlight.
“Every day the sun angle lowers, so there’s less of a chance of the significant melting,” Weissbluth said. “We’ll probably need the warm temperatures for that.”
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