Snowfall at Steamboat Resort this winter has already surpassed all of last season
With the six inches of snowfall recorded the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 18, Steamboat Resort has officially seen as much snow this year as it did all of last winter.
The 2022-23 total snowfall at mid-mountain has exceeded 254 inches, according to the resort website, eclipsing the 250 inches that fell through the entirety of the 2021-22 season.
This winter has actually surpassed the previous winter as well, and has nearly met the total of 261 inches in the 2019-20 season, although that one was cut short due to the pandemic. Stipulations or not, this winter is on track to be one of the snowiest in Steamboat.
Steamboat Resort has snowfall data dating back to 1980. Since then, there have been eight 400-inch seasons, the most recent coming in 2010-11.
The snowiest season recorded in Steamboat came in 2007-08, with 489 inches falling.
Over the years, Steamboat received about 36% of its snow prior to Jan. 1. This year, Steamboat Resort saw 190 inches. If that rate continues, not only would Steamboat surpass 400 inches, but would top 500.
Of the eight 400-inch seasons, five of them had recorded snow in October. This year, there were 19.5 inches recorded in October. However, there are a few important factors when considering October snowfall, since it can be so flaky.
“October snowfall is tricky. Sometimes we record it and sometimes we don’t,” said Loryn Duke, director of communications for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. “What we use as our measurement is if the snow remains and is a part of our foundation for the base for the winter, then we count it. If the snow melts and is not part of our base, we don’t count it.”
Five of the seasons with more than 400 inches featured a December in which more than 100 inches blanketed the resort. This season, 108 inches fell in December.
January is typically the snowiest month, accounting for about 22% of snowfall. Meanwhile, February accounts for about 20%. By the end of January, Steamboat visitors can expect about 60% of the season’s snow to have fallen already.
Snowfall in November and December were above average for the 42 seasons analyzed. January averages 71 inches, which is six inches away and could be reached early next week.
All this snow has made the Northwest Colorado snowpack the strongest in the state, as the Yampa, White and Little Snake river basin is at 151% of the 30-year average, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
“We have the same amount of liquid water in our snowpack now as we usually do the third week of February,” said Mike Weissbluth, a local meteorologist. “So, we are about five weeks ahead. I think we are over three quarters of our average annual snowpack water content at this point.”
The snow water equivalent, or the amount of water in the snowpack, is on a similar track to three record winters, 1986, 1997, and 2011. There are 16 inches of snow water equivalent in the basin as of Wednesday, fast approaching the average peak of 21 inches.
“We’re almost at 80% of our water content on average,” said Weissbluth, who runs the forecasting website SnowAlarm.com. “So, if we never got another drop of snow, we would still end up at 80%.”
Steamboat Resort’s mid-mountain average snowfall since 1980 is 312 inches. With more than 254 inches at mid-mountain, about 80% of that has already fallen.
Even with all the numbers pointing toward a potentially historic season, there is no reasonable way to guess where the 2022-23 season will end up.
“My educated guess is I have no idea,” Weissbluth said. “I really have enough trouble a day in advance, so looking ahead a couple months is crazy.”
See how much snow is stacking up at various locations across the mountain at SteamboatPilot.com/webcams.
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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