Record-breaking snowmaking occurring at Steamboat Ski Area despite natural snow |

Record-breaking snowmaking occurring at Steamboat Ski Area despite natural snow

Snow guns were hard at work on Vagabond at Steamboat Ski Area Monday morning.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When Mother Nature does not cooperate with bringing down the natural snow, snowmakers get to work at Steamboat Ski Area.

To open more terrain, snowmakers have been hard at work cranking up the snow guns and breaking records.

“What we’ve been doing in the last seven days is unheard of,” said Dave Hunter, vice president of mountain operations.

The ski area has invested millions of dollars in snowmaking infrastructure and highly-efficient snow guns in recent years, and it is paying off during the early season when the natural snow sometimes does not fall.

They have been tracking how much snow is being made, and the amounts are breaking records.

The ski area has seen ideal snowmaking conditions in the past week, with overnight humidity measuring in the teens, as well as low temperatures. That has allowed them to pump more water into the snowmaking guns than air.

“That’s when you’re producing the most amount of snow,” Hunter said.

He attributed the productive snowmaking to cooperative weather, the staff and the modern infrastructure.

“We have a lot of terrain that’s ready to get popped open this next week,” Hunter said.

As of Monday, the ski area was operating four lifts and 16 trails covering 64 acres.

The ski area, as well as businesses that support Steamboat’s visitors, are looking for the snow.

Sunny skies are expected for the rest of the week, but the ski area’s weather experts are expecting a change and more weather activity between Dec. 15 and 26.

“It looks like there are systems that are teed up,” Hunter said.

While parts of the Yampa Valley have just a coating of snow, conditions are different at the top of the ski area.

“What we are seeing at the base area and on the lower mountain isn’t indicative of what we see up high,” Hunter said.

Snowmaking conditions are expected to remain favorable through the week before chances of natural snow starting this weekend.

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

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