New Year expected to bring new snow to Steamboat Ski Area

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— The New Year was expected to arrive on a blanket of fresh snow Wednesday after several inches was was in the forecast to fall on revelers Tuesday night, and the ski slopes were expected to get as much as several more inches during the day Wednesday.

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction was calling for a 90 percent chance of snow Tuesday night, dropping to 70 percent during the day Wednesday.

Weather Service Meteorologist Chris Cuoco predicted 2 to 4 inches would fall in town overnight, and Joel Gratz, of OpenSnow, predicted 4 to 7 inches would cover the ski slopes. Snowfall amounts are expected to be lighter Wednesday.

Cuoco’s colleague Paul Frisbie produced a long-term forecast anticipating that the Park Range, which includes the ski area, will be on the fringe of a strong northwest flow producing the lift that enhances snowfall at least through Monday.

“If this occurs then snow will linger,” Frisbie wrote.

Steamboat Ski Area reported slightly less snow than average for December at mid-mountain, but the timing of the snowfall and the fact that it fell on top of abundant November snow kept the base solid and produced some significant powder days.

Steamboat racked up 60.25 inches of snow in December compared to an all-year average of 67.3 inches. The longest Steamboat went without fresh snow last month was four days from Dec. 16 to 19.

Records kept by Steamboat Ski Area indicate that there was measurable snow at Thunderhead on 18 of 30 days in December (daytime snow on Dec. 31 counts toward Jan. 1). The month got off to a fast start when snow fell on seven of eight days beginning Dec. 2. The biggest single snow total was tallied during that period fell Dec. 4 with 9 inches. However, 4 and 6 inches falling back-to-back Dec. 8 and 9 also gave skiers a thrill.

The biggest blast of the month landed Dec. 22 and 23 with holiday skiers streaming into town to find 7.5 inches the morning of Dec. 22 and another 13.5 inches Dec. 23.

Average snowfall at Steamboat Ski Area in January is 76.2 inches, but the first month of the year has been known to produce more than 200 inches as it did in 1996 when the mountain was buried under 216.5 inches in January alone, leading to a season snowfall total of 441.25 inches.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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