Steamboat Ski Area gets 13.5 inches of new snow in 24-hour period

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Carlos Cisneros uses a snowblower Monday morning to clear the slushy snow from in front of Sweetwater Grill. Heavy, wet snow greeted residents Monday after a winter storm brought several inches overnight.

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— The Steamboat Ski Area reported at 5 a.m. Monday morning that it had received 7 inches of fresh snow at mid-mountain since the lifts had closed Sunday, but there was more to come. By 1 p.m. Monday, the 24-hour snow total had increased to 13.5 inches.

It was enough to push the season snowfall total at mid-mountain past 280 inches. The latest snow also puts the ski area within 23 inches of the 30-year season snowfall average with seven weeks remaining in the 2012-13 ski season.

Steamboat Springs meteorologist Mike Weissbluth of snowalarm.com called for more — and colder — snow throughout the day, and his prediction proved out.

The ski area will “probably receive another 4 to 8 inches of lighter and drier snow by Tuesday morning’s report with almost all of that occurring during the day (on Monday),” Weissbluth wrote.

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction was forecasting that after daily highs in the 30s on Monday and Tuesday, partly sunny skies and higher temperatures — 44 degrees on Wednesday and 47 degrees on Thursday — would return before the next round of precipitation arrives Friday.

Steamboat weather observer Art Judson measured the density of the snow that fell at his station in Steamboat Springs at 0.11 grams of water per cubic centimeter. At that density, the snow is 11 percent water, and it would take about 9 inches of snow to equate to an inch of water. That contrasts to the fluffy, dry snow that fell in town on Feb. 27. With a density of 0.0385, it was only about 4 percent water and would have needed about 26 inches of snow to yield an inch of water. On average, the snow that falls in Steamboat has a density of 0.07, Judson said.

The water stored in the snowpack in the combined Yampa and White river basins had risen to 78 percent of average on Monday, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. And the snowpack at Dry Lake at the bottom of Buffalo Pass outside Steamboat Springs stood at 84 percent of average.

Meteorologist Joel Gratz, who keeps an eye on forecasts for Colorado ski areas at opensnow.com, predicts Steamboat’s next snowfall won’t arrive until Friday night, when 1 to 3 inches could fall.

However, Gratz said the precipitation will spin off a slow-moving storm making its way through Arizona and New Mexico and it’s a bit of a coin toss whether it will send any precipitation to Northwest Colorado.

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

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