Steamboat Springs The Storm Peak Express chairlift opens today, giving Steamboat Ski Area top-to-bottom skiing for the first time this season.
The storm that has boosted the ski area's snowpack for the past two days is expected to continue heavily today, and could drop nearly a foot of snow on the mountain by 6 p.m.
The newly opened lift means access to at least five more trails, including Storm Peak, Buddy's Run, Triangle 3, Calf Roper and Sunset. Those additions bring the total of open trails to 40, with 504 acres of skiable terrain.
Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. officials said Friday that the ski area received two feet of snow in the past week. Ski Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said all remaining lifts and mountain areas should be open by Dec. 22.
Ellen Heffernan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said the moist snow dumped on the Steamboat mountain area is part of a southwest flow that's brought a lot of moisture northward.
"Essentially, what we have is a lot of moist snow from the southwest, and it's streaming over the area," Heffernan said.
The Weather Service forecasts snow throughout the day today, with precipitation tapering off this evening. Lows for tonight and Sunday are in the single digits, and Heffernan said meteorologists expect some accumulation through Sunday on the mountain.
There is no snow in the Weather Service's forecast for Monday through Thursday. But Heffernan said the low pressure system currently sitting over the Great Basin - the system is moving moist air from the southwest toward Western Colorado - makes firm predictions tricky.
"When we do get these big systems sitting over the West, it is difficult to tell when they're finally going to shift out of the area," Heffernan said. A shot of moisture on Tuesday could increase the chance of snow.
"We do expect a somewhat unsettled week this coming week with showers for periods of time. The timing of each wave could be hard to pin down," she said.
The ski area reported nine inches of new snow Friday morning, boosting the midmountain base to 28 inches. The Weather Service forecasts an additional accumulation of up to 10 inches by 6 p.m. today.