Photo by John F. Russell
Tahnee Miller shovels snow in front of Lyon's Drug in downtown Steamboat Springs this morning. A winter storm is expected to persist throughout the day, with 4 to 8 inches expected at higher elevations, including the ski area.
Steamboat Springs The snow that powdered the valley's nose Thursday ensured that skiers and riders would enjoy fresh fluff when the Steamboat Ski Area gondola opened this morning.
The snowstorm also delivered the first groomed Nordic skiing in the valley this season, with the opening of the Steamboat Ski Touring Center today.
Steamboat Ski Area reported 12 inches of new snow at mid-mountain as of 12:40 p.m. Thursday. The report included 7 inches of powder that had fallen since the 5 a.m. report. At the initial report of the day, 5 inches had fallen since the lifts closed Wednesday.
That means soft snow conditions for intermediates cruising on Rudi's Run and Lower Rainbow this morning. Aggressive skiers can begin building moguls on Burgess Creek Liftline and White Out.
The opening of Storm Peak Express on Saturday will give skiers and riders access to more than 3,500 feet of vertical drop.
The National Weather Service in Grand Junction was forecasting a 70 percent chance of snow Thursday night, with clouds giving way to broken sunshine today. The next chance for snow is expected Sunday evening.
Touring Center operator Birgitta Lindgren anticipated more than 5 kilometers of trails would be open today.
Among the trails expected to open today are Lower Rainbow, Eagles' Nest, Norther, Surprise, Burgess Creek Liftline and White Out. Heavenly Daze is expected to open by about 10:30 a.m.
"There's a possibility that we'll be open 100 percent," Lindgren said Thursday. "Kajsa's is ready to go right now, but we wanted to keep skiers off it until Friday so it could firm up over night."
The opening of the Touring Center today means that Thursday marked the last time Bruce's Trail on Rabbit Ears Pass was groomed for the season.
Daily passes at the Touring Center cost $18. However, Routt County youngsters ages 14 and younger may purchase a season pass for $20. The Touring Center also will begin offering lessons this weekend.