A layer of snow covered the Yampa Valley by the time blue finally broke through the sky above Steamboat Springs on Monday afternoon.

A layer of snow covered the Yampa Valley by the time blue finally broke through the sky above Steamboat Springs on Monday afternoon.

Storm drops snow in Steamboat, leaves ski area with 14-inch base

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Steamboat Springs resident Susie Leeson walks Luna, left, and Jazz along Pine Street in newfallen snow Monday morning. Leeson had dropped off her car at Bob's Conoco and didn't seem to mind the winter weather as she made her way through Old Town.

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— Put down your leaf rake and pick up your ski poles. Your neighbor already may have beaten you to the first tracks of the new winter.

Another winter storm blew through Steamboat overnight Sunday and Monday, leaving Steamboat Ski Area with a mid-mountain base of 14 inches of October snow as of 10 a.m. Monday with more continuing to fall.

For early season skiers who knew where they had stored all of their gear last spring, the October snow marked a rare opportunity.

“It was great to be skiing and seeing a little bit of yellow on the trees,” County Com­missioner Diane Mitsch Bush said Mon­day. “There are still a few leaves on the aspens.”

She and her husband, Mi­­chael Paul, ruled out cycling and rock climbing and headed up Rabbit Ears Pass on Saturday morning without their expectations in check.

“There was 8 to 10 inches of snow on the West Summit,” Mitsch Bush said. “It was Sierra cement, and we definitely had to use jump turns, but we didn’t hit any rocks. It was good skiing.”

Snow remains in the forecast through Wednesday, and Nordic skiers can take advantage of groomed trails at Bruce’s Trail on Rabbit Ears.

The Steamboat Springs Nordic Council announced Monday morning they had opened 2 kilometers of skiing on Bruce’s Trail. Members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club took advantage of the opportunity Sunday. Before they could ski, wind-blown trees were removed from the trails.

Steamboat Ski Area is scheduled to open Nov. 24. The weather is expected to moderate by the end of the week, with sunny skies and highs in the 50s possible by Sunday. However, overnight lows in the 20s Monday night and into the teens tonight have the potential to consolidate the snowpack in the high country.

The National Weather Ser­vice forecast for the vicinity of the ski area above 10,000 feet included the potential for as many as 7 inches of additional snow Monday night and another 7 inches today.

The dynamic weather systems that kicked up during the weekend produced snow above 8,500 feet, and a constantly changing mix of snow and rain in the valley.

The pulse of moisture that was pounding Steamboat with wind-driven rain at 6 a.m. Monday abruptly changed to wet snow. The city of Steamboat Springs Public Works Department was ready, with plows clearing heavy slush from bus routes before 8 a.m.

The National Weather Ser­vice reported 1.8 inches of snow and 1.16 inches of precipitation in Steamboat as of 8 a.m. Monday. At that hour, Hayden already had received 3.5 inches of snow.

The National Weather Ser­vice reported a 24-hour precipitation total of 1.73 inches as of 8 a.m. Saturday.

The weather service also posted remote location snowfall totals for the northern mountains as of 8 a.m. Saturday including: Elk River Snotel site, 6 inches; Tower Snotel on Buffalo Pass, 9 inches; and Rabbit Ears Pass, 6 inches. Remote sensing devices at those locations were not reporting Monday afternoon.

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

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