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Busy weekend ahead in Steamboat Springs

Passengers unload the inaugural Alaska Airlines flight that arrived Saturday at Yampa Valley Regional Airport. The roundtrip San Diego flights are offered twice weekly Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Matt Stensland

— Yampa Valley Regional Airport and hospitality workers anticipate a busy day Saturday as visitors arrive to spend the holidays in Steamboat Springs.

“Things are going well,” YVRA manager Kevin Booth said Friday. “Things have kind of settled out for us.”

Soon after winter air service started at YVRA on Dec. 15, there was a small amount of turbulence.

A power outage caused two flights to be cancelled Dec. 16, and then two other flights were cancelled Dec. 17 because of issues at other airports.

YVRA had its busiest days Dec. 17 and 18.

“We’ll see that again tomorrow and even on Christmas Day,” Booth said.

More than 1,000 visitors are expected to arrive each day through Wednesday.

The holiday vacation exodus will begin soon after. More than 1,600 passengers are scheduled to leave on New Year’s Day.

Go Alpine, which offers shuttles from Denver International Airport and YVRA has been staffing up in preparation for the busy season.

“Everyone who is qualified for driving is out there, including me,” General Manager Tracey Rogalski said.

On Friday alone, Go Alpine ran four buses to DIA for the noon shuttle.

Holiday travel could be complicated by the weather this weekend.

“It doesn’t look like it’s going to be a showstopper,” Booth said. “We can handle one to three inches easily.”

The next storm is expected to reach the Steamboat area Saturday night.

Joel Gratz, with opensnow.com, was calling for 2 to 4 inches of snow Saturday night and another 2 to 4 inches on Christmas Day.

Steamboat meteorologist Mike Weissbluth was calling for between 1 and 4 inches of snow by Christmas morning.

“The front will barrel through the area Sunday morning with a burst of snow, wind and rapidly-falling temperatures,” Weissbluth wrote. “Mountain-top flow will quickly veer to the northwest behind the storm which is very favorable for Mount Werner, and moderate to heavy snows will occur through the day, making for excellent Sunday afternoon skiing in winter storm conditions. It will, however, make for difficult or sometimes impossible travel conditions.”

After that, a storm is expected to favor the mountains in the Steamboat area Wednesday.

“The northern mountains should be favored by the storm on the 28th because it will be coming from the northwest,” Gratz wrote. “If this storm drops a bit further south, as shown by the European model, there could be moderate amounts of pow on Wednesday and/or Thursday in the northern mountains. If, however, the storm stays further north as advertised by other models, there will be less snow.”

So far this month, 73.5 inches of snow has fallen at Steamboat Ski Area. That is above the 20-year December snowfall average of 69.2 inches.

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


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