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2011: 24.5* inches
*As of Dec. 30
31-year December high
Steamboat Ski Area resort officials have taken an old ally out of semi-retirement this week. The “Renovator” is back to work, rejuvenating the mix of manmade and natural snow that has taken on a sun-baked, slick surface on some ski trails at Mount Werner.
“We have brought out an old tool called the ‘Renovator’ to help out the surface conditions,” ski area spokesman Mike Lane wrote in an email Friday. “It’s a special blade that mounts on the blade frame of a cat and digs up the top 3 inches or so of the hard snow surface.
“We then pulverize it with the tillers (on the snow cat) to break up the chunks, removing the glazed finish that has set up on some trails.”
Lane reported that the Renovator was put to work Thursday night on Heavenly Daze and on Buddy’s Run and Upper High Noon on Wednesday night.
The snow grooming implement also was tested earlier in the week on Tomahawk Face, Sundial and on Lower Spur Run, Lane wrote.
Skiers, snowboarders and ski area managers are looking hopefully at an Intellicast forecast that predicts snow showers on Mount Werner tonight. However, forecasters expect most of the moisture to fall to the north in Idaho and northwest Wyoming.
In the meantime, it was unseasonably warm in Steamboat on Friday afternoon. Local weather observer Art Judson said the thermometer at his weather station between downtown and the mountain read 46 degrees Fahrenheit at 2:51 p.m., down from 47 degrees early in the day. He said there was a reading of 50 degrees at Steamboat Springs Airport.
A meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction said today’s high wouldn’t be official until it was reported this morning, but the standing record for Steamboat Springs on Dec. 30 was 45 degrees set in 1980.
Judson did not have access to the Dec. 30 record but reported that the all-time record high temperature for any day in December was the 64 degrees recorded on Dec. 10, 1939.
“We’ll keep working trails with the Renovator and continue to make snow anytime conditions allow,” Lane wrote. “All in all, skiing and riding is pretty good with what has been given us by Mother Nature.”
Snowfall records kept by the ski area show that even if several inches of additional snowfall hit the area tonight, this has been one of the driest starts.
It was December 1980, with all of 1 inch of snow, that helped to bring on the snowmaking era in Steamboat. Steamboat also experienced lower snowfall in December 1986, with 13.75 inches.
The ski season of 1986-87 finished with 166.75 inches of snow, with the big month that winter being January and its 58 inches.
The winter of 1980-81 limped home with 133.25 inches of snow, but January and February 1981 were good months for skiing as both crested 50 inches of snowfall before April produced an anemic 11 inches.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com