Elijah Gerhard checks out the snow falling in downtown Steamboat Springs on Thursday afternoon. Gerhard and his family are visiting Steamboat Springs from Plano, Texas. The National Weather Service forecast several inches of snow overnight Thursday, potentially enough for the Steamboat Ski Area to break its single-season snowfall record.

Photo by John F. Russell

Elijah Gerhard checks out the snow falling in downtown Steamboat Springs on Thursday afternoon. Gerhard and his family are visiting Steamboat Springs from Plano, Texas. The National Weather Service forecast several inches of snow overnight Thursday, potentially enough for the Steamboat Ski Area to break its single-season snowfall record.

Ski area's 5 a.m. measurement is the one that matters

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— After racking up 100-inch months in December, January and February, the Steamboat Ski Area continues to creep toward the single-season snowfall record, 1 and 2 inches at a time.

The ski area entered Thursday needing only 2 inches of snow to eclipse the mark of 447.75 inches set during the winter of 1996-97. And although that amount or more might have fallen on the slopes of Mount Werner with the snow showers that pushed through the region Thursday afternoon and evening, nothing is official until ski area employees visit the measuring station at 5 a.m. today.

Ski area spokeswoman Heidi Thomsen said snow measurements are taken at various times of the day but that only the 5 a.m. measurement is used for historical and record-keeping purposes.

The ski area has been keeping track of monthly and seasonal snowfall since the 1979-80 ski season. More recently, the ski area began including October snow totals as well as accumulation in the weeks leading up to the mountain's traditional late-November opening.

Thomsen said adjustments to record-keeping practices don't change the fact that it's been a fantastic - and possibly record-breaking - winter of skiing and riding.

"All we can go off of are the records that we have and what they include," she said, adding that she too has heard stories of incredible snow in some of the resort's earlier years.

"Everyone I've talked to has some pretty good stories about waist-deep skiing this season," Thomsen said. "Just to possibly break the record is pretty exciting."

Even if this morning's measurements fail to break the record, there are more than two weeks left in the ski season to do so.

The National Weather Service forecasts a chance of snow through Saturday, with daytime high temperatures ranging from the mid-30s to the low 40s. Easter Sunday is expected to be mostly sunny with a high temperature in the upper 30s.

Thomsen said the ski area likely will hand out goodies to skiers and riders at the mountain on the record-breaking day.

- To reach Brent Boyer, call 871-4221

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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