Sunday, December 22, 2002
Steamboat Springs Christmas arrived a week early for snow-starved skiers and snowboarders.
Last week's string of winter storms dumped more than four feet of snow at the Steamboat Ski Area, and with one of the busiest weeks of the season at hand, the timing couldn't have been better, ski area spokeswoman Cathy Wiedemer said.
"It's huge," Wiedemer said of the snowfall. "We couldn't be happier from a resort standpoint. It's a true Christmas season. (Snow is) obviously very important for the holiday season, and it's an exceptional experience for the locals."
The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's lodging barometer projects that 8,000 overnight visitors will be here Christmas day.
That number is down from the 9,000 overnight visitors last Christmas, but the numbers should increase given the recent trend of close-in bookings. And the forecast for Saturday is 13,348, already ahead of the same Saturday in 2001, when 13,034 overnight visitors were in Steamboat.
A favorable jet stream steered Pacific moisture systems into Routt County throughout last week, and the result was more than five days of accumulating snow.
The final system moved through the area Friday and Sunday. Through noon Sunday, that system had produced more than seven inches of snow at the ski area.
National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Frisbie said that despite forecasts predicting additional snow this week, significant accumulation is doubtful.
"I think we're going into a lull period for most of the week," Frisbie said.
"There will be some scattered snow showers, but only minimal accumulations. I'm not real excited about the snow chances."
A mix of clouds and sunshine should prevail for most of the week, but strong Pacific storms could reappear over the weekend, Frisbie said.
Meanwhile, skiers and snowboarders rejoiced Sunday over great powder and the first blue skies in almost a week. The ski area reported a base of 62 inches at the summit and 46 inches at mid-mountain, the deepest snow of any resort in Colorado.
"You can find fresh powder wherever you go," Steamboat Springs resident Jonas Gabriel said. "It's the best December I think we've ever had."
Steamboat's Jeremy Kassib summed up ski conditions with one word.
"Epic," Kassib said. "It's awesome. It's good everywhere."