Winter's tale of the tape

December snowfall cracks into top 5

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— December snowfall totals at Steamboat Ski Area ranked among the top five in the past 25 years. The ski area received 94 inches at mid-mountain in the past month.

Only 1981, 1983, 1989 and 1996 surpassed that number, with snowfall totals that exceeded 100 inches.

December 1983 holds the record of 165.5 inches. That was the winter when Steamboat experienced snow of biblical proportions -- 40 days and 40 nights beginning in late November.

After a blitz of powder in the first 20 days of the month, the final third of December 2005 produced a steady stream of single-digit snowfalls that kept skiing conditions soft for holiday crowds.

Steamboat roared out of the lift line with 51 inches of new snow at mid-mountain in the first 10 days of the month and followed that with 32 inches from Dec. 11 to 20.

The early December snowfall is more impressive considering no snow fell Dec. 8 through 13.

Steamboat's most recent deep powder days were Dec. 18 and 19, which produced 8 and 9 inches of snow, respectively. Since then, snowfalls have been a steady 1, 2 and 3 inches.

The ski area finished the year with 5 inches of snow for New Year's Eve revelers on Dec. 31.

Ski area spokeswoman Heidi Thomsen said the resort received 10 inches of snow in the new year as of 5 a.m. Tuesday. It then proceeded to snow most of the day on the mountain.

In the mountains surrounding Steamboat, the Natural Resource Conservation Service reported the snowpack on Rabbit Ears Pass at 164 percent of average. Remote sensing devices at the tower snow-measuring site on Buffalo Pass reflected an estimated snow depth of 96.8 inches Jan. 3.

-- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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