Tom Ross: Snow gods bring it on

Heavy winter storm has me thinking dejà vu all over again

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Tom Ross

Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Tom here.

— Veterans Day 2005 produced a steady overnight rain that caused skiers and riders across Northwest Colorado to wake up grumpy and cursing the snow gods. Little did they know that by March they would be baking cookies for the gods.

Even after the cloud cover lifted to reveal a fresh coat of snow on Storm Peak that grim morning of Nov. 12, it would have been difficult to predict what was to come. Who knew that last winter would turn out to be the fifth season in which 33 feet of snow or more would bury the 'Boat?

Certainly, no one was bold enough on Nov. 12, 2005, to predict record snowfall of 83 inches for the month.

By Nov. 14 last winter, the Steamboat Ski Area was reporting a healthy, but unspectacular, 18-inch base at mid-mountain and 26 inches at the summit. Ski area managers said their crews still needed a week of frigid temperatures to get ready for top to bottom skiing on opening day. Yeah right.

Things were about to change. And the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Get ready for dejà vu all over again - think, Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day" - only, instead of waking up in Punxsutawney, he's in the 'Boat and he can't find his goggles.

Today is Nov. 14, 2006, and if you haven't scraped the summer coating of wax off your boards, you might give it serious consideration. You wouldn't want to snooze on one of the best powder days of the winter.

Between Nov. 23 and 30 last winter, skiers and snowboarders logged four legit powder days with 14 inches of fluff on Nov. 27 and 28. Ski Patrol responded by doing something it rarely does in November - opening the Priest Creek glade skiing down to the Duster Trail.

It was powder-licious.

December brought many more holiday gifts. It snowed during 21 of 31 days in the month. In January 2006, it snowed 22 out of 31 days. I know people who began to look forward to taking a day off from skiing so they could chill out at the Laundromat.

Instead of invoking powder clauses with the boss, they invoked the laundry clause. Skiers willingly went from piles of soft powder to Downy fabric softener and piles of stinky fleece turtlenecks. They said the change of pace was refreshing.

Powder pigs in Steamboat became so jaded last winter, many refused to board the gondola if the 5 a.m. ski report promised fewer than 6 inches.

Could it happen again? Could Steamboat come close to matching last winter's snow total of 432 inches? You bet it could.

The ski area recorded 441.25 inches of snow during the winter of 1995-96 (216.5 fell in January 2006 alone). Then, Steamboat went back to back with the all-time record of 447.75 in the winter of 1996-97.

Get ready. I can feel it coming.

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