This week’s cold snap could bring snow to ski areas but not from guns
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With much cooler temperatures in the forecast this week, many people in Steamboat Springs are expecting a return of snow to the Yampa Valley.
But officials with Steamboat Resort and the Howelsen Hill Ski Area said the expected cold snap is not likely to change their approach to snowmaking.
“We’re keeping an eye on this storm, but right now, we don’t have plans (to make snow),” said Loryn Duke, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. director of communications. “Our crews are constantly looking at the weather forecast to see how we can maximize it.
“What we don’t want to do is get excited about cold temperatures that are fleeting. There’s certainly some temperatures in our forecast that we could take advantage of, but then the forecast after that is such a warmup that it’s not the best use of our resources.”
This week’s forecast calls for a dramatic drop in temperatures starting late Wednesday, Thursday and into Friday morning.
Mike Weissbluth, a Steamboat meteorologist who runs snowalarm.com, predicted 3 to 6 inches of snow at lower elevations and 6 to 13 inches at the top of Mount Werner before the end
Highs on Thursday are forecast to be in the upper 30s or low 40s, and temperatures will run 20 to 25 degrees below average Thursday and Friday. Temperatures, however, will begin to warm starting Friday and through next week.
“There’s usually a little cold snap in the middle of October, so it’s not unusual,” said Brad Setter, who manages Howelsen Hill for the city of Steamboat Springs. “This cold that’s coming is unusual, so if we had a gun or two, we might fire up in the morning just to test the system, but I don’t foresee us getting there in time.
“Looking forward it looks like mid-50s again next week,” Setter added. “So even if we did make a little bit of snow this week it would probably melt before the beginning of November.”
Setter said most of his snowmaking crew members hold other positions with the city and will be available to work for him beginning Oct. 15, and he plans to start making snow Nov. 1.
“I saw the temperatures on Thursday night, and it looks amazing,” Setter said. “I would love to run some guns, but we are really not ready. We have not flushed any lines, and we don’t have any guns out.”
The Steamboat Resort is slated to open Nov. 23, and Howelsen Hill will follow on Nov. 30. Both Duke and Setter said advances in snowmaking technology now allow the ski areas to make more snow in a shorter period of time.
“Obviously, we get really excited about the first snow,” Duke said. “ …but we’re going to be a little bit more cautious on the long-range forecast regarding the start of snowmaking.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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