A storm system and cold front were expected to tumble into Steamboat Springs on Thursday night, bringing 8 to 12 inches of snow.
Bryon Lawrence, a hydrologist for the Grand Junction Weather Forecast Office, said 3 to 5 inches were expected to fall overnight. Winds were forecast at 10 to 15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph, he said. Warmer weather Thursday probably melted snow on roads, which will be slick today when the water refreezes with the cold front, Lawrence said.
The office predicted another 3 to 7 inches of snow would fall today.
"It'll be heaviest in the morning. And in the afternoon, it should slow a little bit," Lawrence said.
Snow showers are possible tonight, he said, with winds coming in from the west. The Forecast Office expected only a couple of inches of accumulation from those. Temperatures will continue to drop, Lawrence said.
Tonight, "we're looking for lows down around zero and Saturday, again, very cold, with highs barely making it out of the teens to about 20," he said. "Sunday, we'll see a little bit of a moderation, if you can call it that, with highs getting into the upper 20s."
Downtown Steamboat probably will get less snow than Mount Werner, Lawrence said. Little snow is expected Saturday and Sunday.
The expected storm is good news for skiers and riders, he acknowledged. Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. plans to open some lifts 15 minutes early today through Wednesday, officials announced in a news release.
The Steamboat Gondola, Christie Peak Express and Preview will start running at 8:15 a.m.; Burgess Creek, Elkhead, Four Points and Storm Peak Express will open at 8:30 a.m.; and Sundown Express, Sunshine Express and South Peak will run at 8:45 a.m., according to the release. All other lifts will operate at their normal times.
"With the anticipated volume of guests over this upcoming holiday, we want to take extra steps now to ensure that the holiday experience : meets or exceeds guests' expectations," Chris Diamond, Ski Corp. president and chief operating officer, said in the release. "Over the past five years, we've seen the dramatic difference an early opening can make on starting the holiday experience off right."
Snowstorms had favored Colorado's southern mountains, Lawrence said, but forecasters expect that to shift. The wintry weather can pose a danger, but also is beneficial in several areas, he said.
"All the warm weather we had in late November and very early December - we're paying the price for it now," Lawrence said. "It's good for a lot of people, including the reservoirs and water and skiers. It's helping a lot of people out."
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