Dry skies expected for Northwest Colorado into next week
December 6, 2011
Steamboat Springs — A stubborn high pressure system along the West Coast is blocking moisture from reaching Northwest Colorado.
"There is no access for ocean air to get to us," said Paul Frisbie, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
Frisbie said the next chance for measurable precipitation would be the middle of next week at the earliest.
"I would say there is a better chance for the later part of next week," he said.
Although the forecast lacks the natural precipitation many Steamboat residents are hoping for, snowmaking at Steamboat Ski Area has benefited from several nights of frigid temperatures. The National Weather Service recorded an overnight low of 10 degrees below zero at about 4 a.m. Tuesday. The night before, it got down to 3 degrees below zero. Overnight lows for the rest of the week are expected to be near zero degrees with daytime highs in the low 30s.
"Snowmaking has gone very well, especially these last few nights with nearly 70 guns — pretty much 100 percent — working through the night," Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokesman Mike Lane wrote in an email.
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The cold weather complicates snowmaking, as well. Lane said when temperatures get as cold as they have been the past couple nights, crystals form in the hoses used to carry compressed air to the snowmaking equipment. About every hour, snowmakers have to swap the water and air hoses.
"That’s a lot of hose to keep track of and keep producing at full efficiency," Lane said.
Snowmaking operations have passed the halfway point for the season, Lane said. Each year, the ski area uses about 100 million gallons of water to make snow.
"The snowmakers have been making so much snow, it has been very hard to keep up with moves to new locations, as well," Lane wrote. "Digging out the equipment and hose to move to the next location takes additional time and effort. They are performing absolutely at the top of their game and doing an amazing job in very demanding conditions."
Snowmaking operations this week will take place on upper and lower Vagabond, Storm Peak, Mavericks Superpipe, Eagles Nest, See Ya and Betwixt.
— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com