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Steamboat Springs Skiers and riders should bundle up and brace themselves for frigid weather on the slopes of the Steamboat Ski Area this weekend.
Although today's daytime temperatures could get up to 20 degrees, the wind chill from a storm system blowing through the Yampa Valley will keep it feeling between 0 degrees and 5 below zero on the mountain, National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Ramey said.
A winter weather advisory is in effect for the city of Steamboat Springs until 6 p.m. tonight; the advisory expires at midnight for higher elevations in the Park Range, including Mount Werner.
Powder fanatics hungry for first tracks in Morningside Park and Pioneer Ridge, however, are unlikely to be deterred this morning, when the Steamboat Ski Area will rocket to 96 percent open.
With snowfall expected to begin early Friday evening, the current storm system is expected to drop between 8 and 14 inches of snow in the Yampa Valley through tonight, Ramey said.
"This is an impressive cold front," Ramey said. "This is a real dry system, but we have good moisture in the air, and I feel like the cold weather will bring in the snow."
Tonight will be one of the coldest so far this winter, with low temperatures dropping as far as 15 degrees below zero. Winds will blow in from the west throughout the day at 10 to 15 mph, with gusts up to 30 mph, Ramey said.
The Morningside chairlift will begin operating for the winter season at the Steamboat Ski Area today. Rough Rider Basin and Rabbit Ears Terrain Park also will open today, and the gladed terrain of Pioneer Ridge will be open for hike-to skiing and riding, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said Friday.
The ski area is aiming to open the Pony Express lift Dec. 27, Lane said. Crews also are working to open the Maverick's Superpipe and Terrain Park next weekend, weather permitting.
Steamboat will get a break from snowfall and the chill on Sunday, though snow is likely again Monday and Tuesday. Another storm system is expected to arrive Christmas Day and continue to drop snow that Friday, Ramey said.