Steamboat is 55 inches of snow short of average this winter

Least amount of snow in an October to April period since 2018

Water gushes down a channel on Emerald Mountain. Warm temperatures expected this week will keep this water flowing as the valley's snowpack melts.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Steamboat Springs has seen the least amount of snow this winter since 2018, with snowfall from October to April coming about 55 inches short of the average for the last 30 years.

This season’s 125 inches — recorded at a measurement station near Steamboat Springs High School — narrowly edges out 2018’s 119 inches. Still, it is the seventh least amount of snow seen since 2000, according to historical snowfall data for Steamboat from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Of course it is the snowpack that matters,” said local meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who runs the forecasting website “We were able to add a little bit it looks like out of this storm.”

While measured snowfall may be stronger than 2018 in Steamboat, current snow water equivalent show this year is still lagging when considering the entire Yampa, White and Little Snake River Basin. Currently, snowpack looks to peak at 17.6 inches of water this year compared to 18.3 inches in 2018.

Snow two weeks ago reset the basin’s peak to this mark, but it is unlikely to surpass that again this season. While Weissbluth predicts another storm is in store for the Yampa Valley this weekend, it won’t be as powerful as the last two that each dropped double-digit depths of powder at the middle of Mt. Werner.

Parts of the Steamboat and Flat Tops forecast area for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center received as much as three feet of snow over the weekend. Avalanche experts say that much snow alone is enough to bury someone if it were to slide.

Risk locally is currently highest in the state and will remain “considerable” on Monday, April 25, the third highest level of risk.

Lowest snow received in Steamboat Springs from Oct.-April since 2000 (Source: National Climate and Water Center)
YearSnowfall (Inches; Average = 181 inches)
2022 (Through April 24)125

“The danger varies according to the recent snow amounts, with dangerous conditions in the deepest parts,” wrote Ben Pritchett, a forecaster for the avalanche center’s northern mountains team. “In these places where you find more than two feet of new snow, avoid any slopes steeper than 30 degrees.”

Brian Lazar, deputy director of the avalanche center said in his weekly outlook that warmer weather is starting Monday. When the cold dry snow that just fell starts to get wet through the week, Lazar said the risk of wet avalanches would increase.

Monday’s forecasted high temperature is just under 50 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. This will be pushed to the mid-60s by Thursday, April, 28, Weissbluth said, with a potential to hit 70 degrees that day.

Similarly warm weather last week melted off more than 2 water inches worth of snow in the basin last week, according to the National Water and Climate Center.

“It’s shocking how much water we lost this past week in the snowpack,” Weissbluth said, referencing a decline in snow water equivalent due to melting. “That’s what 70 degrees will do for you. And above freezing low (temperatures at night) you just really start accelerating that snow melt.”

Like the past two weekends, Weissbluth said there is a system that looks to impact the Yampa Valley next weekend, though models currently don’t predict that storm to be as strong as previous renditions.

“It doesn’t look like this storm will be quite as strong because it’s not going to be a multi-day event,” Weissbluth said.

Warm temperatures last week melted more than 2 inches of snow water equivalent from the Yampa, White and Little Snake River Basin in just four days. Warm weather is expected this week as well.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

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