Snow, cold temps for Steamboat over weekend, into New Year: All major chairlifts now open at Steamboat Resort
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Meteorologists remain uncertain exactly how much snow a complex system of storms will bring to Steamboat Springs this weekend, but they agree on one thing: it is going to be cold leading up to the New Year.
Two storms, one from the Pacific and the other from Canada, have been interacting in “a complex and hard-to-predict fashion,” according to local meteorologist Mike Weissbluth who runs the forecasting website snowalarm.com. He anticipates the first round of snow to arrive Friday evening.
Saturday’s high is 18 degrees, dipping to a low of minus 3 degrees in the evening, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. Sunday is similarly frigid with a high of 16 degrees and a nighttime low of minus 1 degree.
Weissbluth expects temperatures to be similarly cold at Steamboat Resort, which can occasionally record warmer temperatures than lower elevations, a phenomenon called temperature inversion. He predicts a low of zero degrees at the summit of the ski area by Saturday afternoon and minus 10 degrees by Sunday morning. Midmountain temperatures should be several degrees warmer than the summit. Weissbluth advises skiers and riders to bundle up for the biting cold.
With the opening of Pony Express on Friday, all major chairlifts at the ski area are running, according to Loryn Duke, director of communications for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. With more natural snowfall to buttress snowmaking operations, more terrain also could open this weekend, she added. As of Friday, more than 95% of the trails at Steamboat Resort were open.
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Weissbluth calls for 1 to 3 inches of snow to accumulate in time for the Saturday morning snow report at Steamboat Resort. The National Weather Service predicts a slightly greater accumulation of 2 to 5 inches for the Steamboat area on Saturday, with up to 6 inches possible in the northern mountains, according to meteorologist Megan Stackhouse.
Snow showers are expected to continue through Saturday night, with 2 to 5 inches of additional accumulation by Sunday’s snow report at the ski area.
The cooler temperatures may deteriorate the quality of the snow, according to Weissbluth. As he explained, temperatures as low as those expected this weekend can transform snowflakes from dendrite-shaped — the tree-like branch structures found in quintessential flakes — to smoother column or needle-shaped flakes. This type of snowfall, he said, tends to be denser than the coveted Champagne Powder skiers and riders drool over.
A third storm is expected to interact with the others later in the weekend, Weissbluth said, creating more uncertainty for the amount of local snowfall.
“Depending on how that plays out, we may have additional snow on Sunday night, or we may have nothing,” he said.
Moving into the work week, Weissbluth predicts 1 to 4 inches of new snow by Monday morning before the storms clear. New Year’s Eve should be dry, he said, with snow returning in time to celebrate the New Year on Wednesday. Forecasting models remain unclear about the amount of expected snowfall. Weissbluth expects to have more accurate predictions for the holiday week by Sunday.
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