Storm could bring snow to Steamboat Ski Area late Friday

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Reader poll

When will it snow in Steamboat Springs for the first time?

  • Second week of October (Oct. 7 to 13). 18%
  • Third week of October (Oct. 14 to 20). 21%
  • Fourth week of October (Oct. 21 to 27). 15%
  • Fifth week of October (Oct. 28 to Nov. 3). 24%
  • Later than Nov. 3 23%

148 total votes.

— The upper slopes of Steamboat Ski Area have a solid shot at snow Friday night and well into the day Saturday as a complex, two-phase storm coming out of the Four Corners region arrives in the Colorado Rockies. At first, the storm will bring warm moisture and rain showers, National Weather Service Forecaster Dennis Phillips said. By Saturday morning, cooler temperatures will have settled in, increasing the chance for continuing snow.

The Weather Service in Grand Junction is forecasting a 70 percent chance of showers in Steamboat Springs on Friday night and Saturday with an overnight low of 28 degrees but little or no snow in the valley. The forecast is different above 9,500 feet on Mount Werner during the same period, when the chance of precipitation will be 80 percent and the overnight low is expected to reach 25 degrees, producing as much as 3 inches of snow after 11 p.m.

The arrival of the storm would be welcome news to hunters who will be in the field early Saturday morning for the beginning of the first elk season. After a long dry spell, the moisture would allow hunters to be more stealthy in the woods, and any snow would make the elk easier to track.

The Weather Service reports that a low-pressure system dragging cold air beneath it will influence weather on Colorado’s Western Slope for the next couple of days. The storm initially will favor the central and southern mountains, but by Friday night, colder winds will assert themselves at high elevations in the northern part of the state.

Phillips said the nature of the storm is making it tricky to predict snowfall amounts because it is tracking from an unusual direction for this time of the year.

“We actually have cool air from the Four Corners flowing northwest instead of air from Canada flowing toward the Southwest,” Phillips said. “The hard thing this time of year is getting the precipitation amounts right. If you get a strong updraft, it could lower the snow (elevation) level a little bit."

The forecast for Steamboat Springs still calls for temperatures expected to reach 67 degrees Friday before the storm sorts itself out. There also is a chance of thunder Friday night. Phillips said the storm was producing significant amounts of lightning over Southern California on Thursday.

“It has a lot of energy,” he said. “I think the moisture will wrap up into Wyoming and the Uintahs (mountain range) Friday night. The second phase of the storm has a band of precipitation, and with cooler air in place (in Steamboat on) Saturday, it could snow through late in the day, but the heaviest will be in the morning.”

The high temperature in Steamboat on Saturday is expected to be 52 degrees.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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