Steamboat’s first snowfall starts off week of powder chances
For the first time this season the Champagne Powder Cam at the top of Steamboat Ski Resort measured accumulating snow on Sunday, Oct. 23, and there is more where that came from.
Snow started falling overnight and by 4 p.m. on Sunday about five inches of snow had built up at measuring station near the top of the mountain. The camera at mid-mountain near Thunderhead Lodge showed even more snow, with close to eight inches at 4 p.m.
“It’s accumulating pretty good,” said local meteorologist Mike Weissbluth. “This does look like it’s going to taper off by (Monday, Oct. 24) afternoon. … But we have another wave diving out of the Pacific Northwest, with another one right behind it.”
While the first snow of the year is coming somewhat late — snow came on Oct. 13 last year — Weissbluth said the top of Mt. Werner could see as much as 18 inches of snow by Thursday, Oct. 27. A storm forecast from the National Weather Service sent out on Sunday agrees, saying much of the mountains around Steamboat could see up to a foot and a half of snow.
“It’s pretty darn good for this time of year and it’s enough snow so it is going to hang around for a while,” said Weissbluth, who writes about Steamboat weather at SnowAlarm.com. “We have to hope that it can stay cold now until opening.”
After a break in the storm on Monday afternoon, Weissbluth said it should start snowing again on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 25, into Wednesday, Oct. 26. Then the trailing wave of that storm will keep snow falling on Wednesday night into Thursday morning. While snowfall will be pretty light to start, Weissbluth said he expects it to pick up on Wednesday.
With the storms comes cold air from the north, which will plunge low temperatures into the teens, and even the single digits toward the end of the week.
Mark Miller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said Northwest Colorado has had a high-pressure system overhead for the last several weeks, which allowed for warmer temperatures during the day and at night. With these new storms, the low temperature for Thursday night is currently forecasted to be 8 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Now, we’re something more like a trough pattern,” Miller said. “That’s leading to some colder air filtering down from the north and west. … (It’s) certainly a lot colder than normal and colder than we’ve had the last few weeks.”
Weissbluth said the question now is whether this cold will be able to keep snow that falls this week from forming facets and weakening. Facets forming early in the snowpack could lead to persistent avalanche risk through the winter. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center will start forecasting avalanche risk on Nov. 1.
The weekend looks to be a nice, if not a little cold, before another system looks to pass over the Yampa Valley Early next week. Forecasts further out are still fuzzy, but it looks like there could be another storm at the end of next week with more frigid temperatures behind that.
“We may hold on to this (snow) and be in pretty good shape,” Weissbluth said. “We’ll have to see what happens.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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