Powerful storm to exit Steamboat by Thursday afternoon but not before dumping as much as 2 1/2 feet at ski area | SteamboatToday.com

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Powerful storm to exit Steamboat by Thursday afternoon but not before dumping as much as 2 1/2 feet at ski area

Skiers Jeff Davis and Jill Seager head to their car after a day of skiing at Steamboat Ski Area. The two skiers, who were visiting from Summit County, were thrilled about the snow and planned to stay in the area Thursday for a few more turns.

Avalanche watch in effect

An avalanche watch is in effect for the Steamboat zone through 9 a.m. Thursday, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Forecast snow accumulations and wind and high elevations mean natural and triggered avalanches will become likely Thursday. The avalanche danger in the Steamboat zone is considerable on all aspects and elevations, according to the report.

— Heavy snow created whiteout conditions across Steamboat Springs for much of the day Wednesday and is expected to continue to pile up powder through Thursday afternoon.

By the time the system exits the area later Thursday, as much as 16 inches of new snow could rest on the valley floor, and Mount Werner could have as much as 30 inches of new snow covering the slopes of Steamboat Ski Area.

As many residents and visitors noticed Wednesday, the snow associated with the storm is particularly light, the result of ideal temperatures for the creation of dendrites, “a crystal form that is particularly light, dry and airy and comprises our Champagne Powder,” Steamboat-based meteorologist Mike Weissbluth wrote in an email to the Steamboat Today on Wednesday.

A winter storm warning remains in effect for Steamboat Springs and the surrounding areas through 6 p.m. Thursday. The National Weather Service predicted the heaviest snowfall on west- and north-facing slopes Wednesday afternoon and evening, but snow showers will linger into Thursday afternoon.

Weissbluth expects the snow to dissipate sometime after noon Thursday.

The snowfall will be accompanied by gusty winds at higher elevations. The conditions on Rabbit Ears Pass are expected to remain treacherous until the system exits the region.

Thursday’s high temperature will reach 29 degrees, but the overnight low will drop into the single digits. The National Weather Service forecasts clearing skies by Friday with daytime highs in the upper 20s to mid-30s throughout the weekend. Weissbluth, however, said a last hurrah from the storm cycle could leave another 1 to 4 inches of snow in Steamboat by Saturday morning.

To reach Brent Boyer, call 970-871-4221 or email bboyer@SteamboatToday.com