Timely winter storm forecast for Steamboat inside 2 weeks to start of ski season | SteamboatToday.com

Timely winter storm forecast for Steamboat inside 2 weeks to start of ski season

— Here comes winter.

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction is forecasting a stormy three days for Steamboat beginning Friday afternoon. Meteorologist Joel Gratz, of OpenSnow.com, foresees 6 to 12 inches of snow for Steamboat Ski Area by the time Sunday comes to a close.

Perhaps more important than the natural snow will be frigid overnight temperatures that could allow snowmaking crews at Steamboat to kick into full gear Saturday and Sunday nights. It could get down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday night and 6 degrees Sunday night.

Opening Day of the 2012-13 ski season is less than two weeks away on Nov. 21, and snowmaking is apt to determine whether ski area officials can reach the goal of opening the broad intermediate trail Heavenly Daze under the gondola in time for Thanksgiving weekend skiers.

Gratz expects Steamboat to pick up 2 to 4 inches of snow Friday night, 1 to 2 inches Saturday, 2 to 4 inches Saturday night and another 1 to 2 inches Sunday. The National Weather Service expects the storm to begin with a slight chance of thunderstorms Friday as high temperatures push into the low 50s. However, things will begin to take a wintry turn Friday night as the rain in the valley changes to a mix of rain and snow after 11 p.m. The chance of precipitation will be 70 percent, and winds could gust to 25 miles per hour.

The chance of snow will remain at 70 percent Saturday, slipping to 60 percent overnight and 30 percent during the day Sunday.

Some of the heaviest snow produced by the storm in Colorado will be in the San Juans, where accumulation could be measured in feet, not inches.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com