Photo by John F. Russell
Heyden Roberts makes a quick exit from the slide pool Tuesday afternoon at Old Town Hot Springs. Roberts, who was visiting from Littleton, was part of a large crowd hoping to escape Steamboat’s chilly temperatures in the naturally heated waters of the pool. The forecast calls for snow starting tonight.
Updated December 29, 2010 at 12:38 a.m.
Steamboat Springs A cold front expected to hit Steamboat Springs tonight is forecast to leave behind 10 to 20 inches of snow, or more, at elevations higher than 7,500 feet, according to the National Weather Service’s office in Grand Junction.
The agency has issued a winter storm warning for the mountains of western Colorado from 6 a.m. today through 6 p.m. Friday.
Meteorologist Chris Cuoco said Mount Werner’s west-facing slopes could see snow in excess of 20 inches. And unlike the most recent storm system that left behind several feet of wet, heavy snow on the mountain, he said this storm should result in powder.
“The snow is going to be drier and, as a result, accumulate more,” he said. “It won’t be as heavy, and it won’t settle as much.”
Cuoco said lower elevations in town could see 6 to 10 inches of snowfall. He said snow is expected to start falling tonight with the most accumulation expected Thursday.
The incoming storm is good news for the thousands of visitors who have arrived in Steamboat this week.
Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said 99.5 percent of the ski area’s terrain is open.
“Everything is open except for Maverick’s Superpipe,” Lane said, referring to the halfpipe in Bashor Bowl.
Yampa Valley Regional Airport Manager Dave Ruppel said the weeks surrounding the Christmas and New Year’s holidays have been the airport’s busiest in recent years.
With the incoming storm, Ruppel said snow removal crews are on call and ready to keep the runways clear for travelers.
“We always have crews scheduled for every night,” he said. “If it’s a big storm, we’ll call everybody in. They’ll work until the snow stops or until we don’t have any more planes coming in.”
Ruppel said the East Coast blizzard canceled two flights Monday but all flights Tuesday arrived as scheduled.
He said flights at 91 percent capacity brought in 986 passengers and 877 departed Tuesday.
Cuoco said the cold front today is expected to bring frigid weather. He said today’s highs will be around freezing with lows overnight in the teens.
Thursday’s highs are expected to be in the teens with overnight lows dipping below zero. He said the high Friday wouldn’t exceed single digits, and the low Saturday morning could be 15 below zero.
Winds are expected to be 25 to 35 miles per hour at Steamboat Ski Area and 10 to 20 mph in town today through Friday.