A reflection shows skiers gathering at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area on Friday morning as a small sign near the gondola entrance proclaims the total snowfall for the year to be a new record of 450 inches.

Photo by Brian Ray

A reflection shows skiers gathering at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area on Friday morning as a small sign near the gondola entrance proclaims the total snowfall for the year to be a new record of 450 inches.

Steamboat hits 450-inch mark

Ski season reverses November doldrums in record style



Record Broken

The Steamboat Ski Area reported 4 inches of new snow Friday morning, establishing a new single-season snowfall record of 450 inches.

The Steamboat Ski Area reported 4 inches of new snow Friday morning, establishing a new single-season snowfall record of 450 inches.

The numbers


Pounds of scoria spread on local roadways by city snowplows


Money spent on truck rentals for hauling snow


Overtime hours logged by city snowplow drivers


Cubic yards of snow hauled out of town


Inches of snow to fall on Mount Werner since October, a new record


Snow removals, by dump truck, in Ski Time Square and along Lincoln Avenue


Days of school cancelled because of snow by the Steamboat Springs School District

Powder points

It snowed more than 6 feet in the first ten days of February 2008

It snowed 7 feet in seven days at the summit from Jan. 8 to 14

The ski area hit the 100-inch mark for summit-base depth March 6

Streaks of consecutive snow days

Longest Streak: 26 days (Jan. 16 to Feb. 10) with 137.5 inches (11.5 feet) at mid-mountain

2nd Longest Streak: 14 days (Dec. 19 to Jan. 1) with 66 inches (5.5 feet) at mid-mountain

3rd Longest Streak: 11 days (Dec. 6 to Dec. 16) with 75 inches (6.25 feet) at mid-mountain

Top Steamboat winters

2007-08: 450 inches and counting

1996-97: 447.75 inches

1983-84: 447.5 inches

1995-96: 441.25 inches

2005-06: 432 inches

1992-93: 423.5 inches

The ski area surpassed the 300-inch mark for the season Feb. 1; six days later, it surpassed the 350-inch mark on Feb. 7; and on March 2, it surpassed the 400-inch mark. These three key milestones were reached within a month's time.

— The climatologists had it all wrong back in November 2007. Steamboat was supposed to experience a mild January and February with no better than an even chance of average snow.

Instead, skiers and snowboarders here gorged themselves on a record 450 inches of powder.

Steamboat Ski Area officials announced Friday morning that the old season snowfall record of 447.75 inches set in the winter of 1996-97 had been toppled. The 4 inches of snow that fell late Thursday afternoon pushed this winter's total to a new record.

Two weeks of ski season remain for the mountain to push that record out further.

The ski area has recorded monthly snowfall totals only since the winter of 1979-80, and only in recent years has October and early November snowfall been included in the season totals.

Nevertheless, the record book will reflect 450 inches - or whatever the total is April 6 - as the new benchmark for the ski area.

"With each additional flake over the next two weeks, a new snowfall record will be set," Chris Diamond, president and chief operating officer for the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., said in a news release.

For many local and visiting skiers and riders, the period from mid-December to mid-February will long be remembered for its abundance of snow.

Former Olympic bronze medalist and Steamboat Springs resident Nelson Carmichael said the first week in February sticks out in his mind.

"There were definitely some days in February when we had 10 inches followed by 12 inches followed by 8 inches - and it was cold," Carmichael recalled.

In fact, it snowed 14 inches at the summit Feb. 1 and 15 inches at mid-mountain Feb. 5.

"I went up Pony Express in the morning instead of heading to the Closets or Shadows," Carmichael said. "I snowboarded a couple of days, and I skied a couple of days."

Many people still overlook Pioneer Ridge, Carmichael said. He and his crew were able to make a series of runs down untracked trails in relative solitude.

"I had great powder runs right under the lift," he said. "We moved one run over, then one run over and another run over. It was a blast to make a few runs with my friends."

A record snow year seemed unlikely at Thanksgiving.

The ski area announced Nov. 15 that insufficient natural snow and mild temperatures that didn't permit snowmaking forced it to postpone opening day from Nov. 21 to Nov. 30.

Meteorologists were saying that the warm ocean current known as La Niña was making a mild winter a likelihood.

"The odds strongly favor above-normal temperatures this winter close to the Wyoming border," National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Pringle said Nov. 20.

Local weather observer Art Judson reported a high temperature of 65 degrees Nov. 20. Strangely, that was the day the weather pendulum began to swing back to its typical arc.

The ski area recorded 10 inches of snow at mid-mountain Nov. 21, and although eager skiers and snowboarders could not have known, Steamboat had launched its assault on the record books.

November finished with a modest 23 inches at mid-mountain, but December 2007 saw measurable snowfall on 26 of 31 days, including streaks of 11 days from Dec. 6 to 16 and 13 days from Dec. 19 to 31.

Although no single daily snow event surpassed 11 inches in December, it ranked as the third-snowiest December on record, ski area spokesman Mike Lane said.

January typically is the snowiest month in Steamboat, and January 2008 produced the biggest powder day of the season thus far. Twenty-five inches of absolute fluff was measured at the summit of Storm Peak on Jan. 10.

The snow didn't stop falling, and longtime Steamboat skier Andy Hogrefe remembers Jan. 11 as the day John Kole, owner of One Stop Ski Shop, offered to close the store for a powder day.

While the boss went skiing, Hogrefe stayed behind to greet customers.

"I wanted to go up on the mountain, but I knew I had a chance to ski with my son on Saturday," he said.

The weekend didn't disappoint - another 22 inches of snow fell.

That second week in January marked a remarkable period in which Steamboat recorded 7 feet of fresh snow in 7 days from Jan. 8 to 14.

January's powder also brought tragedy to the ski area.

Jared Daniel, 22, of Auburn, Mass., and Mark Joseph Stout, 45, of Ottsville, Pa., both died of apparent suffocation in separate incidents in Park. Both men died after they fell into tree wells filled with light snow. The two fatal incidents happened within 10 days of one another.

February completed back-to-back-to-back 100-inch snowfall months for Steamboat with 104 inches of snowfall and the second-snowiest February on record.

March has unfolded at a more measured pace in spite of 14 days of snow in the first three weeks of the month. The monthly total as of Friday was 51 inches at mid-mountain.

This ski season isn't over, and history tells us April can make a difference.

During the old record season of 1996-97, February supplied just 36 inches of snow and March chimed in with a skimpy 24 inches. April 1997 rebounded with 55.5 inches to break the previous record.

Steamboat skiers and riders have just six days in April to enjoy this year, but if this winter has taught them anything, it is to keep the faith.


seeuski 9 years, 1 month ago

In remembrance of Al Gore, WHAT A YEAR!! I only added the sarcasm because ofcourse stormpeakco has to relive the so called promise of global warming in what should be a celebration. Can't wait for next year when mama nature trys to quiet the critics again.


bloggyblog 9 years, 1 month ago

seeuski, blog says congradulations for being sooo special and having it all figured out.


freshair 9 years, 1 month ago

It's the Global Warming fetishists who claim to have 'it all figured out.'


kusellout 9 years, 1 month ago

Let's put the record book in Al Gore's "lockbox" :)


dave mcirvin 9 years, 1 month ago

way too many epic powder days to count and this year sets a new benchmark indeed! as a believer in science, i fear longer term changes with the paucity of snowfall totals at lower elevations and increased wildfire risk with more intense global climate changes...


Bartonium 9 years, 1 month ago

Hey Chicken Littles,

The SNOW is falling! The SNOW is falling!


seeuski 9 years, 1 month ago

seeuski says bloggyblog is causing smoggysmog. figure that out. blog is surely insecure about predicting gloom and doom for next season or blog may be red in the face when the snow piles up again.


bloggyblog 9 years, 1 month ago

seeuski, have fun playing in your sand castle. enjoy it while you can. yours truly, blog


seeuski 9 years, 1 month ago

bloggedyblog, What comes around.......you know the rest.

I take your last post as a personal threat!


powderdude 9 years, 1 month ago

I think it was global powdering, not global warming......


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