U.S. Ski Team members Taylor Fletcher, left, and his brother Bryan, right, test out the cross-country course at the rodeo grounds at Howelsen Hill on Tuesday with Bill Demong. The National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office is forecasting a couple of inches of snow during today’s 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials in Steamboat Springs.

Photo by Matt Stensland

U.S. Ski Team members Taylor Fletcher, left, and his brother Bryan, right, test out the cross-country course at the rodeo grounds at Howelsen Hill on Tuesday with Bill Demong. The National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office is forecasting a couple of inches of snow during today’s 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials in Steamboat Springs.

Snow to subside by Christmas Day

Weather Service predicts a few inches today and Thursday

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New terrain

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said Steamboat Ski Area would open trails including Lower Valley View, Tomahawk, Quickdraw, Ramrod, Buckshot, Pup, Kit and Moonlight today. The trails are primarily accessed by the Sundown Express lift.

Early openings

The Steamboat Ski Area will open some lifts earlier than normal from Sunday to Dec. 31. Kasten said starting Sunday, the gondola and Christie Peak lifts will open at 8:15 a.m., followed by the Four Points lift at 8:30 and the Storm Peak and Elkhead lifts at 8:45. Each opening is 15 minutes earlier than normal.

Keep up with the conditions

- For local weather conditions and recent coverage of Steamboat Springs weather, visit SteamboatToday.com/weather

- View webcams of Steamboat Springs at SteamboatToday.com/webcams

- For weather information from the National Weather Service, including storm warnings and advisories, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/

- The Colorado Department of Transportation provides road conditions, closures and traffic cameras at www.cotrip.org. For travel information by phone, call 511 from anywhere in Colorado or dial 303-639-1111.

- Find information about avalanche danger and conditions at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website: www.avalanche.state.co.us.

- For flight information, visit www.flightview.com/ TravelTools/. By phone, call Delta Airlines at (800) 241-4141; United Airlines at (800) 864-8331; and American Airlines at (800) 433-7300

— Routt County residents dreaming of a white Christmas might have to keep dreaming until next year.

At least in terms of actual, Bing Crosby-esque snowfall on Christmas Day, the forecast does not look good. The National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office predicted Tuesday that a few inches of snow would fall in the Steamboat Springs area today and Thursday, before giving way to cloudy-but-snow-barren skies for the Friday holiday.

“Looks like snow will be moving into the Steamboat area Wednesday afternoon and continuing through Thursday morning,” meteorologist Jeff Colton said Tuesday.

“Right now, it doesn’t look like a lot of snow, probably in that 3 to 6 (inch) range on the lower mountains.”

Colton did not bear good news for skiers and snowboarders hoping for an upcoming heavy snowfall, either. Although he said the first two weeks of January look to bring “temperatures slightly above normal and precipitation slightly above normal,” the increased precipitation likely won’t translate into a snow dump on Mount Werner.

“Basically, not a whole lot of change to what we’ve been seeing,” Colton said about the extended forecast. “As far as snowfall, nothing major on the horizon at this time.”

Steamboat Ski Area has its snow guns blazing, however, and will open new terrain today, in areas primarily accessed by the Sundown Express lift.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokeswoman Loryn Kas­­ten said trails including Lower Valley View, Tomahawk, Quickdraw, Ramrod, Buckshot, Pup, Kit and Moonlight will open today. The openings increase the ski area’s access numbers to 14 lifts and 95 trails, representing more than 1,600 acres on about 56 percent of the ski area’s terrain.

The ski area is slightly expanding its lift hours next week to help accommodate an expected number of visitors between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Kasten said Tuesday that from Sunday to Dec. 31, the gondola and Christie Peak lifts will open at 8:15 a.m., followed by the Four Points lift at 8:30 and the Storm Peak and Elkhead lifts at 8:45.

“We will be operating our holiday lift schedule on the 27 through the 31,” Kasten said. “Pretty much everything is opening 15 minutes early.”

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