Colorado Department of Transportation employee Doug Brown uses a front-end loader to push snow off the shoulder at the top of Rabbit Ears Pass on Thursday. The department has dealt with a large amount of snow on the highway this winter.

Photo by John F. Russell

Colorado Department of Transportation employee Doug Brown uses a front-end loader to push snow off the shoulder at the top of Rabbit Ears Pass on Thursday. The department has dealt with a large amount of snow on the highway this winter.

Snow forecaster sees active storm pattern for Steamboat in early April

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— Independent meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who regularly skis Steamboat Ski Area and focuses his forecasts on Mount Werner, was predicting Thursday that the ski slopes here will begin to see a series of moisture-laden storms that will carry it at least through the first week in April.

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Colorado Department of Transportation employee Doug Brown uses a front-end loader to push snow off the shoulder at the top of Rabbit Ears Pass on Thursday. The department has dealt with a large amount of snow on the highway this winter.

Keep up with the conditions

- For local weather conditions and recent coverage of Steamboat Springs weather, visit SteamboatToday.com/weather

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- For weather information from the National Weather Service, including storm warnings and advisories, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/

- The Colorado Department of Transportation provides road conditions, closures and traffic cameras at www.cotrip.org. For travel information by phone, call 511 from anywhere in Colorado or dial 303-639-1111.

- Find information about avalanche danger and conditions at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website: www.avalanche.state.co.us.

- For flight information, visit www.flightview.com/ TravelTools/. By phone, call Delta Airlines at (800) 241-4141; United Airlines at (800) 864-8331; and American Airlines at (800) 433-7300

Steamboat celebrates the final weekend of the 2013-14 ski season April 12 and 13 with concerts both days, the traditional Cardboard Classic race April 12 and the Splashdown Pond Skim Competition on April 13.

Steamboat stands to have ample snow to host both events based on Weissbluth’s long-term weather outlook found at www.snowalarm.com.

After a couple of bouts of snow Saturday and Monday, he foresees that skies will clear late Tuesday with sunny and mild weather dominating Wednesday.

“This break will be short-lived as the west coast (high pressure) ridge disappears allowing significant Pacific energy to move inland,” Weissbluth wrote in an email late Thursday morning.

He doesn’t expect that flow of moisture to be cut off anytime soon.

“This looks to be a long-lived pattern change as I see a very active spring pattern through at least the first week of April,” Weissbluth wrote. “The first storm of this pattern is currently timed for Thursday (March 27).”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would seem to concur — its map depicts the precipitation outlook for the United States spanning March 27 to April 2 showing a band of above-average moisture clipping the northwest corner of Colorado.

In the short term, Weissbluth wrote that Steamboat Ski Area could wake up to an inch of fresh snow Saturday morning with another 2 to 5 inches falling during the day.

After dry air dominates during daylight hours Sunday, another Pacific wave will deliver cool air and precipitation to the Yampa Valley beginning very early Monday morning. Weissbluth expects 1 to 4 inches of snow to fall during the day Monday.

The National Weather Service does not have precipitation in its Monday forecast for Steamboat, calling for mostly sunny skies and a high temperature of 46 degrees.

The prospect of a snowy early April suggests Northern Colorado’s already robust snowpack will continue to grow and deliver beneficial streamflows later in the season.

A remotely monitored snowpack measuring site on the west side of Rabbit Ears Pass near Steamboat Springs has some of the highest water content, on a percentage basis, in the combined Yampa/White river basins, according to the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The snow there is 85 inches deep and contains 32 inches of water. That’s 142 percent of the median for March 20.

The snow is even deeper atop Buffalo Pass on the Continental Divide northeast of Steamboat. However, the water content in the recently hand-measured 151 inches of snow at the Tower site is 119 percent of the median for the date. The water stored in the snowpack on Buffalo Pass measures 47.7 inches. It’s that snow, at 10,500 feet, that potentially will persist into July and feed local streams and rivers.

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

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