The sun sets on Buffalo Pass on Saturday night. Meteorologist Joe Ramey said signs look good for snowfall this winter in Steamboat.

Anne Sullivan/Courtesy

The sun sets on Buffalo Pass on Saturday night. Meteorologist Joe Ramey said signs look good for snowfall this winter in Steamboat.

Meteorologist: La Niña hints at abundant snow for Steamboat

Last visit from strong weather pattern left ski area with 489 inches at mid-mountain


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— The calendar flipped over to September in the middle of the night and fall weather isn’t far behind.

There’s even climate data that supports optimism for a snowy winter.

The National Weather Ser­vice in Grand Junction forecasts subfreezing temperatures for Steamboat Springs, Clark, Milner, Hayden, Craig and even Maybell overnight Thursday into Friday.

“There are so many microclimates up there, some people may have seen frozen dew already” in August, meteorologist Joe Ramey said Tuesday. “But I think this will be more widespread than those local events.”

A warming trend is expected to return Friday with daytime highs in the 80s for the holiday weekend, Ramey said, but he looked further into the future to winter weather patterns that are setting up to favor Northwest Colorado.

“We’re expecting a strong La Niña, and the last strong La Niña treated Steamboat pretty well,” Ramey said.

That was the winter of 2007-08, when the Steamboat Ski Area recorded 489 inches of snow at mid-mountain.

La Niña’s influence on weather patterns in North America is driven by cooling of ocean temperatures at the surface in the east-central Pacific.

Ramey said La Niña weather patterns tend to favor the Northern Rockies with winter precipitation. Steam­boat and the Park Range are just far enough north to catch the southern end of the La Niña storm track, he said.

It would be typical for Storm Peak to get its first dusting of snow within two days on either side of Sept. 15.

But the more seasonal weather news is that a heavy rain event that spanned Aug. 20 and 21 pushed Steamboat well above its average precipitation for the month.

Official weather observer Art Judson said August finished with 2.33 inches of moisture compared to the average 1.63 inches.

“It was nothing special except for one 24-hour period of 1.14 inches that spanned two days but did occur in 24 hours,” Judson said.

That single rainstorm recorded at his weather station on an elevated bench between downtown Steamboat and the ski area came within 1/100th of an inch of matching the 24-hour Aug­ust record of 1.15 inches.

The August record for precipitation was 5.36 inches in 1914, Judson said, and the record low rainfall for August was 0.17 inches in 1944.


lessworkmoreskiing 6 years, 8 months ago

This is the year we really get buried. Get ready Steamboat


JustSomeJoe 6 years, 8 months ago

Sad news indeed. The Pilot is always spot on with their weather analysis, whatever they publish/predict, the opposite happens. Look for a thin winter.


Brent Boyer 6 years, 8 months ago

Hey now. Don't be such a pessimist, JustSomeJoe. The La Nina prediction was pretty spot-on in November 2007:



Scott Wedel 6 years, 8 months ago

Wow, impressive research Mr "pretty spot-on in November 2007" Boyer. 1 for 1 is enough evidence for you. In Brent's World the guy that gets a hit in his first MLB at bat will bat 1.000 for his career.

Quick history of La Ninias: There was a strong La Niña episode during 1988–1989. La Niña also formed in 1995, from 1998–2000, and a minor one from 2000–2001. Recently, an occurrence of El Niño started in September 2006[41] and lasted until early 2007.[42] From June 2007 on, data indicated a moderate La Niña event, which strengthened in early 2008 and weakened by early 2009; the 2007–2008 La Niña event was the strongest since the 1988–1989 event.

So how does that correspond to annual snowfall for SB? That appears harder to find since apparently only record years are mentioned in easy to find links and the other years maybe exist in annoying to search SB Pilot articles.


JustSomeJoe 6 years, 8 months ago

Just some friendly joshing Brent. You have to admit that almost every (I'm too lazy to search) time last winter you predicted a "big storm" coming in the next day or two the end result was the mountain got bupkus. The phenomenom is locally known as the Pilot Jinx.

Perhaps you guys ought to stick to reporting after the big storm. Hmm, sounds like a good freelance gig, I know someone who would trade a series of "reporting the goods" stories for a pass, or maybe you can pick it up to keep the writing skills sharp.


OnTheBusGus 6 years, 8 months ago

I'm having surgery on both of my knees starting with the left next month, it's going to snow like mad.


Cary Foulk 6 years, 8 months ago

In regards to Scott's run down and my unofficial record.

1988 (1987-1988) was a ok year at 334" 1989 not so good at 254" 1995 was ok at 321" 1998 was 291" 1999 was 292" 2000 was 369" 2007 was a down year at 316" compared to '06 (432"), '08 (489") and '09 (405") The 2008 event is associated with the "epic" year, other than that there does not appear to be a great correlation. What was going on in '84 (448") and '96 and '97 (441" abd 448" respectively)?

I have my fingers crossed anyway.


sledneck 6 years, 8 months ago

Foulks, You need to take up golf. However, I agree. I told someone today that I cannot find the correlation either.


Bill Dalzell 6 years, 8 months ago

84 and 85 and 95 and 96 were mild La Nina winters. Can't get to excited about it as it is weather. The whole principal is that we clipped by northern systems. Minor differences in these storm tracks have a huge effect on what we get. Cross our fingers though. I would like to see how many conflicting Pilot weather reports we get each year. It seems there are at least 3 or 4 that have conflicting statements each year. I can't remember if it was the Pilot, but I remember articles saying it was going to be a dry spring last year, right before it started snowing again.


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