Ski area passes 100 inches

Weekend snow puts season total past first milestone

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— A snowstorm that hit early today gave the Steamboat Ski Area a powdery push to the 100-inch mark for season snowfall.

Reporting 97 inches for the season and no new snowfall at 5 a.m. today, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. reported an additional 5.5 inches of new snow on its Web site by 2 p.m.

That puts the ski area past its first snow milestone in a season that started on time, but has lagged behind recent years in the pace of snow accumulation. During the past 10 years, the ski area has averaged 134.8 inches of snow by the end of December; the total for the 2009 portion of this season was 96.25 inches.

Paul Frisbie, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said this afternoon that he expected the day’s quick-moving, moisture-packed storm to continue dropping snow through early evening today, with occasional showers Sunday and possibly Monday adding “maybe an inch here and there” to the storm total.

A system coming in from the north Tuesday evening and Wednesday is expected to bring colder temperatures and a better chance of snow, Frisbie said.

At the base of the mountain this afternoon, Jim Clair and Heidi Weckbacher, who were visiting Steamboat from Boston, said their morning runs in the Storm Peak and Morningside areas of the mountain offered prime snow, but little visibility on the higher parts on the hill.

Steamboat residents Ben Rock and Reall Colbenson reported similar conditions as they prepared to leave the mountain just before 1 p.m. Rock, a snowboarder, said the two found their best tracks of the day in the Pony Express area of the mountain. They decided to stay below the Thunderhead lift after a few early runs, as snowstorm visibility made skiing slow, he said. This season has had a slow start compared with recent years, leaving a few uncovered obstacles on some areas of the mountain, Rock said.

Sixteen of the ski area’s 18 lifts were operating Saturday, with 156 of 165 trails and 2,716 of 2,965 acres open for skiing or riding. A handful of blue, blue-black, black and double-black runs remained closed today, including Sunnyside, Upper Concentration, First Chance, Mother Nature, Wakeup Call, East Face, No Names and North St. Pat’s.

— To reach Margaret Hair, call 871-4204 or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com

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