Ski area sees average snowfall

Steamboat gathers more powder than most

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— After packing above-average November snowfall into the last nine days of the month, the Steamboat Ski Area cruised through December with accumulations that nailed the 20-year average.

Steamboat has received 128 inches of snow at mid-mountain and 152.75 inches at the summit thus far this ski season. The 20-year average for December is 66.88 inches at mid-mountain. Steamboat received 67 inches in December 2001.

With almost two-thirds of the ski season remaining, the ski area is a little ahead of the pace for the average season snowfall of 319.27 inches. So far, 49 days of the ski season have gone by, and 144 remain.

"It's skiing well," local skier George Clark said. "There is a little more exposure up top compared to last year. You can tell we had a lot of skiers on it the last two weeks."

Clark said some areas of the mountain deserve the label "packed powder" and others tended toward "hardpack."

Todd Sepella turned in the "Straight Talk Ski Report" on Steamboat's Web page Wednesday morning and reported soft, groomed snow that did not set up overnight. Sepella said he skied "corduroy" during a top-to-bottom run.

Various weather services were forecasting the northern mountains of Colorado would receive 6 to 12 inches of snow above 8,000 feet beginning Wednesday and continuing into Thursday.

Local skiers will recall that the first 20 days of November were unseasonably warm and dry, forcing Steamboat to postpone its Nov. 21 opening date until Nov. 29.

When it began snowing on Nov. 22, the white stuff came in drifts, piling up 49 inches at mid-mountain and 62.5 inches at the summit before November was through. That compares to the November average of 29 inches. The only time Steamboat had more November snow in recent history was 1996, when an unheard of 78 inches fell. The only other November to exceed 2001 was 1983, when 55.25 inches fell.

The record December snowfall occurred in 1983 when the mountain received 165.5 inches. The most recent triple-digit December was 1996, when Steamboat had 108 inches of snow. The following December, Steamboat received just 40 inches. Last December produced 78 inches.

As of Wednesday noon, Steamboat had received 12 inches of January snowfall at mid-mountain.

Steamboat's mid-mountain base of 38 inches ranks it ahead of most destination ski areas in Colorado, including Vail, Keystone and Aspen. Winter Park leads the pack with 45 inches of unpacked base at mid-mountain.

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