Storm could bring Steamboat powder days, avalanche danger

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— Hopefully you got your gear dialed Wednesday night, because Thursday morning could be a big powder day for Steamboat Ski Area.

A winter storm moving through Colorado starting Wednesday was expected to bring with it plenty of snow across the state heading into the weekend.

Steamboat could see as much as a foot of new snow by Thursday’s snow report, but those thinking of testing the backcountry should be aware that an avalanche watch has been issued for the Steamboat and Flat Tops zone, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

“If the weather forecast is correct, the avalanche danger will rise to high (Level 4) on Thursday,” the CAIC website states. “High avalanche danger means that both natural and human triggered avalanches are likely. Avalanches could break into old snow layers, creating large and dangerous slides.”

The winter storm was expected move into the area Wednesday afternoon along with expected gusts as high as 25 miles per hour from the west and southwest, according to the National Weather Service.

Snow should continue Thursday into Friday before tapering off Saturday.

Powder forecast website OpenSnow predicted Steamboat Ski Area would see 4 to 7 inches of snow Wednesday night, 6 to 10 inches Thursday and 3 to 6 inches Thursday night.

In his forecast for Colorado, OpenSnow meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote that the state will see a lot of snow Wednesday through Saturday morning but that the temperature of the storm will make for heavy snow. High winds also could hurt visibility, Gratz wrote, and could lead to road closures.

Steamboat meteorologist Mike Weissbluth wrote on his website, SnowAlarm, that the ski area could see between 6 and 12 inches of new snow by the Thursday morning report.

“There is some uncertainty here, but currently I’m thinking another 8 to 16 inches by the Friday morning report if things hold together as forecast,” Weissbluth wrote Monday. “If the Pacific wave does travel over our area relatively intact, heavy snows will continue through the day Friday followed by moderate to light snow, producing another 6 to 12 inches by the Saturday morning report.”

The Colorado Department of Transportation, according to a news release, is predicting Rabbit Ears Pass could see up to 30 inches of snow by the end of Thursday.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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