Snow piling up north of Steamboat Springs

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— The snow depth in the highest elevations of the Routt National Forest north of Steamboat Springs grew substantially during the weekend.

Remote snow-sensing devices show that the depth at the Zirkel Snotel site on the east side of the Continental Divide increased from 1 inch on Oct. 8 to 20 inches as of mid-morning Monday.

Closer to Steamboat, at the Tower Snotel site on Buffalo Pass, snow depth increased from 7 inches on Oct. 8 to 16 inches early Monday.

The Zirkel weather station is at an elevation of 9,340 feet in the headwaters area of the North Platte River. The Tower measuring station sits at 10,500 feet about six miles northeast of Steamboat.

The National Weather Service's Grand Junction forecast office predicts mild temperatures in the mid- to high 50s in Steamboat for the balance of the week, with precipitation returning today through Thursday. However, a pinpointed forecast for Buffalo Pass and the Park Range show the chance for additional snow increasing to 60 percent Wednesday.

Snow accumulation on Rabbit Ears Pass is less dramatic, with 3 inches at the West Summit and 1 inch at the Columbine site on the east side of the pass.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has begun to monitor the new season's snowpack but won't begin updating avalanche conditions daily until November.

However, the first report of people being caught in an avalanche already has been logged. The Avalanche Center reports that two climbers were swept up in a small slide that broke loose Oct. 5 on the north side of 13,911-foot Mount Meeker in Rocky Mountain National Park. The climbers were uninjured.

- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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