Storm dumps nine inches at summit

Since Sept. 16, 47 inches have fallen at the top of Mount Werner

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— A few lucky ones took advantage of Thursday's mid-winter conditions on Mount Werener.

"I've definitely seen tracks on the mountain, seen the bright orange sleds come out and people walking with their skis," said Heidi Thomsen, public relations manager for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. "When you start seeing people actually carrying their skis, you know what's on their mind."

An overnight snowstorm dumped 9 inches of snow at the summit and 7 inches at the base of Mount Werner. Forty-seven inches of snow already have been measured at the summit since the first storm on Sept. 16, the ski area reported.

Ski Corp. began snowmaking operations Thursday night. Overnight temperatures are expected to remain in the low teens to mid-20s through the middle of next week.

"We're going into a dry and chilly period for the next several days with lows in the mid-20s, windy gusts up to 40 mph and high temperatures in the mid-50s by the weekend," said Brain Avery, a meteorologist and hydrologist with the National Weather Service's Grand Junction forecast office. "And we're not expecting any more storms until mid-week."

The nighttime temperatures will be below freezing, so roads may be slick. Because of the recent snowstorms, motorists are getting antsy to get their snow tires put on their cars.

"We had 40 cars come into the lot by 9 a.m.," said Dustin Dahlin, manager of Big O Tires. "The phones have been ringing off the hook and we have been slammed."

Big O Tires typically doesn't expect crowds until Halloween. Dahlin plans to open 15 minutes early and will stay open an hour or two late to accommodate the influx of vehicles.

Although early business due to snow can be expected some winters, this autumn has experienced an unusually wet weather pattern for Steamboat.

"For September and October total precipitation, I have 8.08 inches to date," said Art Judson, longtime local weather observer and retired avalanche forecaster. "Normal for town is 3.71 inches. So, September/October precipitation in Steamboat is at least 200 percent of normal and we have some yet to go."

It's good news for outdoor enthusiasts.

"After this snow, we had a bunch of people coming in renting snowshoes and looking for cross country gear," said Doug Steadman, floor manager at Ski Haus. "They usually don't come for another couple weeks."

There has also been an increase in residents getting their skis tuned and picking up their seasonal rentals.

There are still 26 days until the ski mountain opens, but some aren't waiting on the lifts.

"A buddy of ours hiked up the mountain today and came down Vagabond," Steadman said. "There is snow up there with a little base underneath and a foot on top."

To reach Allison Plean, call 871-4204 or e-mail aplean@steamboatpilot.com

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