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Steamboat low on Champagne Powder, high on vitamin D

Scott Franz
Tyler Lee shovels snow off the concrete at the Bear River Skate Park Thursday afternoon. Recent warm temperatures have allowed skaters to begin using the park's features, but Thursday, Lee and a few buddies brought shovels, hoping to use a little elbow grease and give Mother Nature a helping hand.
John F. Russell

It took only a few hours Saturday for the Yee-Haw Hill at Saddleback Ranch to morph from a great snow tubing hill to a water park.

“We opened at 10 a.m., and by about 12:30 or 1 o’clock, we were letting people go down for free with the chance they would get wet at the bottom,” Saddleback’s Luanna Iacovetto said. “We’re done tubing for the season.”

Above average temperatures and a lack of any substantial March snowfall forced the tubing hill to close a few weeks earlier than usual.

The ranch, located between Steamboat Springs and Milner, is now missing out on heavy traffic from spring breakers.

“It hurts,” Iacovetto said. “It obviously is one of our bigger times of the year, but you know what, it is what it is.”

Saddleback is still running horseback rides.

And the ranchers have converted their horse-drawn sleighs into wagons for dinner wagon rides.

The abundant sunshine appears to be a boon for other businesses.

Storm Peak and Butcherknife breweries have been opening their garage doors in their taprooms on the west end of town.

How long will this warm weather pattern last?

National Weather Service Meteorologist Andrew Lyons said Thursday it looks as though things are only going to heat up in the coming days.

“It’s not going to be changing too much,” he said. “You’ll have highs (in Steamboat) close to the low 60s at some points. We are watching a weather system for the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday time frame, but there’s not a whole lot to go off of on that one, and it’s really pretty weak in a lot of respects.”

Lyons said any precipitation the system brings next week might be rain at the valley level.

The temperature in Grand Junction was hovering at 71 degrees Thursday afternoon, only a few degrees below a record high for the date.

And things would have to change pretty dramatically at the end of the month for Steamboat Ski Area to post a snow total that isn’t well below average for March.

The resort has received only 8 inches of snow at mid-mountain this month.

Last ski season, the resort received nearly 78 inches of snow by the end of March.

The 20-year-average March snowfall total at Steamboat Ski Area is 48 inches.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10


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