With snow and ice frozen in his beard, Ed Urbanski checks the snow conditions on the High Noon trail at the Steamboat Ski Area on Tuesday afternoon. The ski area recorded 399 inches of snow at mid-mountain as of 5 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Photo by Brian Ray

With snow and ice frozen in his beard, Ed Urbanski checks the snow conditions on the High Noon trail at the Steamboat Ski Area on Tuesday afternoon. The ski area recorded 399 inches of snow at mid-mountain as of 5 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Snow by the hundreds

Ski Area records three straight months with 100+ inches of snow

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399 inches

The Steamboat Ski Area on Tuesday was about 48 inches away from breaking the 1996-97 snowfall record.

The Steamboat Ski Area on Tuesday was about 48 inches away from breaking the 1996-97 snowfall record.

On the books

Steamboat's biggest seasons in the past 29 years

Season Snowfall (inches)

1996-97 447.75

1983-84 447.5

1995-96 441.25

2005-06 432

1992-93 415.5

2007-08 399 (and counting)

By the numbers

Monthly snowfall this season

Month Snowfall (inches)

October 17

November 23

December 126

January 129

February 104 (and counting)

— Routt County's snowfall late Monday and early Tuesday has the Steamboat Ski Area teetering at the brink of a 400-inch season and made for record-breaking measurements.

For the first time on record, the Steamboat Ski Area has seen three straight months - December, January and February - with at least 100 inches of snow. Ski Corp. spokeswoman Heidi Thomsen said the resort's current records go back to the winter of 1979-80. The resort's current total snowfall is 399 inches at mid-mountain.

"This is a really big winter," Thomsen said. "I actually don't remember skiing through this much snow, ever."

Riding up the Morningside lift Tuesday afternoon, Jane Watson of Sacramento, Calif., wasn't surprised to hear the numbers associated with Steamboat's memorable season.

"It shows," Watson said. "You're still finding little spots of fresh powder in there. I don't think anybody's having a bad day."

With 40 days left before the resort's April 6 closing, this season already is Steamboat's sixth-snowiest. The resort needs just less than 50 inches of snow for the snowiest winter on record at Mount Werner. Thomsen said the chances are good.

"That's a lot of days left," she said. "In the past few years, we've gotten a fair amount of snow in March. Not 100 inches, but 50 to 60 inches."

Steamboat's season of big snow wasn't expected and didn't start early. Citing warm and dry conditions, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. delayed its Nov. 21 opening nine days to allow more time for snowmaking. And for months, federal climate experts have predicted a milder and drier winter due to a moderate La Niña effect in the Pacific. Those predictions finally took hold in recent weeks, as Steamboat saw little snow, many sunny days and several daily high temperatures above freezing. Similar conditions returned Tuesday afternoon and are expected to continue until this weekend, when another snowstorm is expected to hit the area.

"It looks like a decent storm this weekend," said Mike Chamberlain, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. "And it looks like it's going to favor the northern mountains."

But looking ahead, local skiers and snowboarders can expect more conditions similar to the past two weeks. Chamberlain said the forecast for the rest of the season shows a 40 to 50 percent chance of above-normal temperatures and a 33 percent chance of below-normal precipitation.

While waiting for a friend on the Flying Z Gulch run Tuesday afternoon, Sam Adkins of Washington, D.C., and Scott Zarecor of Iowa said they originally had planned a trip to Summit County but were more than happy with their diversion to Steamboat.

"We had three powder days in Jackson Hole last month," Zarecor said. "Today, we're pretty stoked."

Adkins was making his first trip to Steamboat since graduating from The Lowell Whiteman School in 1993.

Steamboat is not alone in enjoying a record-breaking season. On Tuesday, Colorado Ski Country USA reported the season's 60th powder day, on which at least one resort received five or more inches of snow. Southwest Colorado has been particularly blanketed in powder this winter. While Steamboat sits at the precipice of 400 inches, resorts such as the Wolf Creek Ski Area are flirting with the 500-inch mark.

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

vanguy 6 years, 6 months ago

With such epic snow totals, what are the chances our dear friends at Intrawest will treat the locals to an extra week of lift service April?

We, here in Steamboat, have grown accustomed to skiing until into mid-April.

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Lovesteamboat 6 years, 6 months ago

I concur....Lets ski until April 13th!

We've all worked so hard to serve our winter guests. Give us another week to play!

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bcpow 6 years, 6 months ago

Do you really think Intrawest is going to extend the season? Only people on the mountain would be locals with passes that don't spend any money. April 7 opens hiking season on the mountain and the dog is looking forward to it.

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424now 6 years, 6 months ago

Love me some powder

Love my slushy wet snow suit

Love me those cool hike's

Doesn't matter to me. We will have a little local time between that is worthy of praise

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StraightTalker 6 years, 5 months ago

RE: On the books "Steamboat's biggest seasons in the past 29 years Season Snowfall (inches); 1996-97 447.75; 1983-84 447.5 1995-96 441.25; 2005-06 432; 1992-93 415.5; 2007-08 399 (and counting)"

I'm having trouble with Steamboat.com's latest press release stating that the snowiest season was 1995-96 at 460"... and I'm having trouble finding the REAL stats anywhere that's trustworthy (not that the Pilot isn't, but they don't say where their #s are from). Anyone got a good link for someone who has to report daily to the 50,000 readers out there for 4 more weeks?

Which is it, 96-97 for 447 or 95-96 for 460? I know Steamboat fudges their #s, but that's a very wide margin.

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StraightTalker 6 years, 5 months ago

well for those interested, i got the from ski corp and posted it online. not sure if they really padded the 95-96 report from what the Pilot reports at 441, or if the Pilot just missed 19" somehow, but here it is...

http://i251.photobucket.com/albums/gg293/straighttalker/21ChampagnePowderSnow_FY08_Page_2.jpg

...in case you want to record it for yourself.

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Brent Boyer 6 years, 5 months ago

StraightTalker: Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. just recently updated that chart to reflect the change in snow total for the new record year of 1995-96. Two weeks ago the chart read 441 inches for '95-96. We're still trying to figure out exactly what brought about that change.

Brent Boyer Editor, Steamboat Pilot & Today

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dave reynolds 6 years, 5 months ago

Straight Talker..just enjoy the snow .it just doesnt matter

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