Cold weather allows Steamboat Resort to break snowmaking records
November 14, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Resort has been pumping out record-breaking proportions of snow in preparation for Opening Day on Wednesday, Nov. 21.
Snowmaking manager Corey Peterson said, as of Tuesday, his crews had created enough snow to cover the equivalent of 210 acres with a foot of snow.
That is twice as much as their best previous year in 2015.
"This is just the best temperatures we've ever had," Peterson said.
Ideal snowmaking weather occurs when the temperatures drop into the teens and there is low humidity.
The ski resort typically makes about 600 acre feet of snow during the winter.
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A team of 53 snowmakers are on staff, which gives Steamboat Resort the ability to make snow any time of day or night if the weather is cold enough.
"I think we have one of the best crews in the nation, and that helps a lot," Peterson said. "They definitely deserve a lot of credit for all the hard work they have been putting in."
The ski resort first started making snow Oct. 30 with 99 snow guns, and they had a record-setting number of guns going Nov. 7 with 139 at once.
When snowmaking conditions were favorable back in 2015, the ski resort opened early for the first time in 13 years with 1,100 vertical feet of skiing.
Leading up to that season, the ski area had received 41 inches of natural snow.
Loryn Kasten, a spokeswoman with Steamboat Resort, said the ski area will not be opening early this year. She said the terrain that will be accessible for the start of ski season will be announced Friday.
On Wednesday, the resort was reporting it had a base of 18 inches of snow at mid-mountain.
Peterson said the weather will allow the resort to open with more terrain than it has in the past.
Typically, the ski resort does a majority of its snowmaking in time for the Christmas holiday rush. Then, crews will return to patch up areas that receive a lot of traffic.
Snowmaking progress has been made on Heavenly Daze as well as Buddy's Run, which would allow for skiing from the top of the mountain.
The priority has been on snowmaking on the lower part of the mountain below the Christie Peak Express lift on the Sitz, Sitz Back, Jess' Cutoff, Vogue, Short Cut, Stampede and All Out ski runs.
The focus has now shifted to the Right O' Way, Main Drag, Ego, Rudi's and Lightning ski runs.
The ski resort has been aided this year with nine additional snow guns mounted on towers and three demonstration guns being tested.
Skiers this winter will notice a new building near Thunderhead Lodge at the start of the Spur Run trail. Peterson said the building is a block house where snowmaking pipes and valves are located.
"We've been making a lot of snow every night," Peterson said. "It's definitely the best start we've ever had."
The natural snowpack in the mountains is also off to a good start following a summer plagued by drought. As of Wednesday, the Yampa and White River Basin had a snowpack that was 113 percent of average.
The Tower measuring site at 10,500 feet on Buffalo Pass was measuring a snow depth of 28 inches with the equivalent of 7.3 inches of water.
Dry weather is expected for the remainder of the work week, but low overnight temperatures will be in the 20s.
The National Weather Service in Grand Junction is calling for snow possibly on Saturday.