Forecast for better than even chance of above average temperatures, moisture in Steamboat through March 26 |

Forecast for better than even chance of above average temperatures, moisture in Steamboat through March 26

— Skiers and riders in Steamboat Springs were hoping this morning to wake up to the first fresh snowfall on the mountain in seven days after the first five days of the month delivered 20 inches.

The National Weather Service was calling for a 30 percent chance of rain showers and even thunderstorms in Steamboat primarily after 3 p.m. Thursday, followed by rain mixed with snow overnight. However, a forecast pegged to the 10,000 foot elevation on Storm Peak was a little more optimistic; rating the chance of an inch of snow overnight at 70 percent.

Steamboat-based meteorologist Mike Weissbluth of the SnowAlarm blog was a little more encouraging.

“The northern portion of a split storm will move eastward tonight and graze the northern half of Colorado Thursday night and Friday, bringing some cooling and the chance of light high-elevation snows,” Weissbluth wrote in an e-mail. “I expect only 1-4 inches of snow above 9,000 feet (by Friday afternoon) before dry and warm weather returns for the weekend and the beginning of next week.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is rating the chance for above average precipitation over the next eight to 14 days at between 50 and 60 percent, and the same is true for the probability of above average temperatures. That forecast is valid through March 26.

Steamboat Ski Area’s mid-mountain snow total for the season stood at 217 inches as of Thursday, putting it within a foot of surpassing the last low-snow winter of 2011-12 when the final total at mid-mountain ended up at 228 inches.

Despite the modest snow total to date, ski conditions on Mount Werner have held up well thanks to frequent and near-normal snow in February of 58 inches at mid-mountain, which helped to make up for the disappointing month of January when just 11.25 inches were recorded.

The ski area saw 17 days of snow in February, and of those, 12 delivered two inches or more at mid-mountain. The greatest 24-hour snowfall was recorded Feb. 21 when 11 inches fell at mid-mountain. The greatest 24-hour snowfall this month was the 9 inches that fell at mid-mountain March 4, translating into 15 inches at the summit of Storm Peak.

According to Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. records, average March snowfall is about 52 inches, and for the approximately two weeks of April that the ski area is open, the average is 19 inches.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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