Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs I’ve been able to confirm through confidential sources that a North Routt woman, Lola Daylooj, is building an ark on top of Grouse Mountain and is taking reservations for couples only, at her Facebook page.
“When the big flood finally arrives, Lola’s Ark is gonna deliver us to safety,” she told my secret source. “It’s made out of the best beetle-killed pine I could find. I reckon if everything goes well, we’ll all be bobbing around in Lake Powell come Independence Day.”
Daylooj reportedly has booked a pair of timber parrots, two whistle pigs and a pair of virtuous coyotes to ride out the flood with her. I’m speaking about the flood that almost certainly will spank us when the 93 inches of snow burying the Lost Dog Snotel near the confluence of the north and south forks of the Elk River finally melts sometime in June.
Speaking of dogs, Daylooj already has booked male and female powderhounds on Lola’s Ark and is looking for a couple of cowhands with a proven ability to get along with a tandem of Steamboat tree-huggers in the neighboring berth. She also needs a couple of veterinarians and two wildlife biologists to look after all the animals she intends to march two-by-two onto the ark so they can repopulate the valley after the flood subsides.
The word snotel is government jargon for a snow-measuring site, but I find that for jargon, it has a nice ring to it — reminds me of a ski lodge.
In the mountains surrounding Lola’s Ark this spring, it’s still ski season, and there is so much snow that it’s difficult to measure.
Vance Fulton, who has been checking snotels and measuring the depth of the white stuff around Steamboat since 1993, said he and a crew with the Natural Resources Conservation Service set out in a mounting storm Friday morning to measure the snow depth at the Tower Snotel at the top of Buffalo Pass. They didn’t make it.
“We got to within a quarter of a mile of Summit Lake and had to turn around because we couldn’t see anything,” Fulton said.
Fulton’s team had hoped to add an extension to one of weather observer Art Judson’s now-buried snow measuring stakes, but that will have to wait until early next week.
In the meantime, Fulton’s NRCS colleague Chris Pacheco used known snow density to estimate the depth of the snow at the summit of Buffalo Pass early Friday at 199.5 inches, and that was a good seven hours before the latest snowstorm blew into the Yampa Valley. You can make your own best guess, but I’m calling it 17 feet deep.
Pacheco, who is the assistant snow survey supervisor with the NRCS in Denver, is a scientifically inclined kind of guy. So he stopped short of predicting a flood of biblical proportions.
“A lot of it’s going to depend on how it comes off,” Pacheco told me. “The best case is if it warms up slowly and comes off over a long period. It’s a rapid transition to (summer temperatures) that concerns me the most.”
If you haven’t made your reservation on Lola’s Ark yet, you’d best start building your own.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com