Steamboat Springs From certain chairlifts at the Steamboat Ski Area Thursday morning, skiers and snowboarders looked either entirely invisible or entirely invincible.
On the summit of Storm Peak, the ski area reported 18 new inches of snow by 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
Gladly, there were few accidents from overzealous skiers and riders overestimating their abilities in the powder, ski patrol director John Kohnke said.
Powder days can tax the body and people sometimes twist knees when they are dealing with unfamiliar snow or when they get tired, he said.
The weather changed dramatically in Routt County from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday, with a warm front inspiring some people to shed their heavy coats only to be hit by a storm that brought strong winds and deep snow by Thursday morning.
The cold northwest winds that blew through the county on Wednesday night and Thursday were preceded by warm southwest gusts, said Dan Cuevas, a technician with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
That sort of "calm before the storm" effect is not unusual for this time of year, Cuevas said.
"It's not all that unusual that you get warmer weather before the storm comes in, especially this time of year when the weather can't make up its mind what it wants to do," Cuevas said.
The high temperature on Wednesday in Steamboat was 53 degrees, which is similar to springtime weather, Cuevas said.
In Grand Junction, the high Wednesday was 69 degrees, a stark contrast to Thursday's high of 40 degrees, Cuevas said.
The snow is also getting wetter as the season progresses, Cuevas said.
However, snowpack levels are below average for this time of year, said Vance Fulton of the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Steamboat.
The snowpack in the area, measured partially at the Yampa River, is at 72 percent of average.
It will take much more than one snowstorm to change the somewhat bleak picture that is out there right now, Fulton said.
If this type and amount of snow would fall every week, the outlook might brighten for the spring and summer, he said.