More snow in forecast for Steamboat before Nov. 25 ski area opening
Steamboat Springs — With more than 36.5 inches of snow having fallen at mid-mountain since Oct. 1 — 10 inches of that total falling in the 48 hours preceding Nov. 13 — the outlook is good for the Steamboat Ski Area’s planned Nov. 25 opening for Scholarship Day.
The ski area’s snowmaking crews were busy Friday morning with valley temperatures as low as 12 degrees, and a weather forecaster who focuses on the Mount Werner area said that, after a mild, sunny weekend, more natural snowfall could be on the way next week and perhaps still more Thanksgiving week.
Steamboat-based meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, of the SnowAlarm blog, said more snow may arrive as soon as Monday, but added the storm that crosses the West Coast on Sunday is expected to split as it reaches Colorado, and snowfall amounts will depend how much of the storm’s energy is drawn into the southern part of the split. There is also a possibility that Steamboat will benefit from the cool and moist northwest flow behind the rapidly departing storm.
“Storm amounts are tough to forecast, but it is likely we will receive six to 12 inches of snow on the hill and maybe half that in the valley by Tuesday morning,” Weissbluth said. “At the very least, I would expect unsettled weather with varying amounts of snow on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the possibility of heavy snows during each of those days.”
A second, fast-moving and splitting storm could arrive in the Yampa Valley, bringing light snow to Steamboat late Friday or early the following day, Weissbluth predicted.
Ski Area spokeswoman Loryn Kasten urged skiers and snowboarders intent on climbing the mountain to sample the snow ahead of Scholarship Day to either reconsider or exercise considerable caution while mountain crews are preparing the ski area to open.
“Steamboat’s mountain crews are working hard in preparation for Scholarship Day, the opening day tradition benefiting the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club on Wednesday, Nov. 25, and uphill access is not recommended,” Kasten wrote in a news release. “With increased snowmaking activity from the base to summit of the mountain, the resort is asking that people help ensure a great start to the season by using extreme caution. Individuals should understand that snowcats, the winch cat with its long cable system, snowmaking equipment and other machines may be encountered at any time and may not be marked. All snowmaking areas are closed.”
Cross-country skiers in the area can already enjoy the five kilometers of track groomed by the Steamboat Springs Nordic Council at Bruce’s Trail, as well as the informal trails on Rabbit Ears Pass, marked by blue diamonds affixed to trees near the western summit of Rabbit Ears in Routt National Forest.
At remote locations in the Park Range near Steamboat, the Natural Resources Conservation Service is reporting eight inches of snow at the Lost Dog measuring site in North Routt, 12 inches at Columbine on the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass and 17 inches at the Tower measuring site at 10,500 feet on Buffalo Pass.
Among the four ski areas in Colorado that have already opened for the 2015-2016 season, Wolf Creek has a 28-inch base at mid-mountain, Loveland has 24 inches, Copper Mountain, 18, and Arapaho Basin, 22.
Aspen Mountain is taking a novel approach this weekend, opening 100 acres of terrain today and Sunday for a “preview weekend.” Aspen Mountain will close after the weekend and re-open for the season Nov. 21.
In California, where skiers suffered mightily last winter, Alpine Meadows opened Nov. 12; Squaw Valley is expected to open today, as is Heavenly.
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