Thursday, February 1, 2007
Steamboat Springs The cold weather that has dominated the past couple of weeks in Steamboat Springs finally was accompanied by some precipitation.
Between 5 and 10 inches of snow - lower amounts in town, higher amounts on the ski mountain - fell Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday in Steamboat. It was the first measurable snowfall since the Steamboat Ski Area received a similar amount Jan. 20 and 21. And the chance for more snow - although nothing substantial - exists throughout the week and into the weekend.
National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Pringle said a small storm system should move into Steamboat from the north this afternoon and bring 1 to 2 inches of snow. Another 2 to 4 inches could fall overnight tonight and into Friday.
Snow or shine, temperatures will be low Friday and Saturday. Friday's high temperature is expected to be 6 degrees with strong winds. Saturday has a forecast high of 8 degrees.
The relatively dry period that has persisted throughout much of the past month and a half follows a typical El NiÃ±o pattern, Pringle said. El NiÃ±o is showing signs of weakening and will continue to do so as spring approaches. Pringle said there's reason to be optimistic about the remainder of the ski season.
"I think everything we're looking at right now should make people hopeful for the rest of the snowfall season," he said Wednesday from his office in Grand Junction. "There's nothing to indicate doom and gloom and every reason to anticipate normal precipitation."
To date, the Yampa and White River Basins are at 78 percent of their typical snowpack. While Pringle said the northern parts of Routt and Moffat counties are some of the only areas in Colorado still classified in the low-end drought category, he said spring should bring normal to above-normal precipitation.
This week's fresh snow heightened the local avalanche danger, said Eric Deering, head of operations and snow safety for Steamboat Powdercats, which organizes backcountry ski and snowboard tours on Buffalo Pass. Deering said he saw several avalanches on the north and south sides of Buffalo Pass on Wednesday.
"The avalanche danger is certainly on the rise," he said.
Deering said skiers preparing for a backcountry trip should visit the Colorado Avalanche Information Center Web site at http://avalanche.state.co.us for the latest updates. Backcountry users always should be prepared with a shovel probe and avalanche beacon, he said.
"It's always good to get that powder fever and go out and get some," Deering said. "But at the same time, it's always important to think of safety."