Steamboat relies on manmade snow for Winter Carnival events
February 6, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Most of the snow for this year's Winter Carnival street events will be manmade, and that's not as unusual as one might guess.
Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Director Chris Wilson said the city uses a combination of natural and manmade snow every year for the popular mid-winter festival. The city just happens to be making more of the artificial stuff this year.
Steamboat Springs assistant street superintendent Ron Berig said the city moves about 2,000 cubic yards of snow to spread across Lincoln Avenue for the weekend Winter Carnival street events. This year, Berig estimates that 80 percent of that snow will be manmade. By comparison, about 80 percent of the snow used last year was natural.
During typical winters, Berig said the snow used for Winter Carnival is about half natural and half manmade.
It's no surprise to locals why snow guns are being relied upon this February. As of Monday afternoon, the Steamboat Ski Area reported receiving 110 inches of total snow this winter. The ski area already had surpassed 300 inches of snowfall by Feb. 8 last year.
According to the National Weather Service, Steamboat isn't expected to see any white stuff falling from the skies this week. Sunny days with high temperatures in the 30s dominate the forecast.
Whether manmade or natural, Berig said the snow used for the Winter Carnival street events shouldn't effect the kids and adults who will take part in events like the donkey jump and shovel race.
"Sometimes the snow acts a little different, manmade snow, if you get a lot of it," he said. "It sets up a little different, but it all works out."
The 99th annual Winter Carnival kicks off Wednesday and continues through Sunday. The street events highlight the weekend's festivities.
Berig said Lincoln Avenue would close from Fifth to 11th streets at about 2 a.m. Saturday so a crew of about nine Public Works employees and nine private truck drivers could start hauling in snow and spreading it across the concrete. He said Lincoln Avenue will reopen at about 12:30 p.m. Saturday after crews clear the snow to the side of the street. Workers will return at about 4 a.m. Sunday to do it all over again.
Lincoln Avenue is scheduled to reopen at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, and Berig said crews would return early Monday morning to clear all the snow from the sides of the street.
Wilson said he's been authorized to spend up to $2,500 to make snow for Winter Carnival, but he doesn't expect it to cost that much.
He said the city has been collecting what it calls "farmed snow," or natural snow, in piles at Brent Romick Rodeo Arena because it's clean and close to downtown.
In addition to using manmade snow from the Nordic racing lanes at the rodeo arena and from Howelsen Hill, Wilson said the city used three guns for four nights last year to make the snow for Winter Carnival.
"We believe (with) the snow we have made and farmed, we're ready to go for the event," he said. "We're set."
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com
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