Fresh snow in forecast for Christmas Day in Steamboat Springs | SteamboatToday.com

Fresh snow in forecast for Christmas Day in Steamboat Springs

— Steamboat Springs appears to be due for a "whiter" Christmas on Thursday with the National Weather Service calling for a 60 percent chance of snow and accumulations of 1 to 3 inches.

Steamboat-based meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, of the SnowAlarm blog, said Tuesday that the storm was hanging out in the Gulf of Alaska and is expected to split as it crosses the West Coast late Wednesday, with a substantial portion of its energy taking a southern track.

"Light snow should start around midday (in Steamboat) on Christmas and we should have a burst of heavy snow when the front moves through later that afternoon or evening," Weissbluth wrote in an email.

He predicted most of the storm's energy to flow south of Routt County, but he expects 4 to 8 inches to show up on the Friday morning ski report.

The Dec. 21 storm did not favor Steamboat, with areas like Loveland Basin receiving significantly more snow. Still, Steamboat has a healthy base of packed powder standing at 41 inches at midmountain. The National Weather Service is predicting very cold daytime temperatures on the upper ski area at 10,000 feet Friday and Saturday, with highs of 10 degrees and 7 degrees.

Remote snow measuring sites operated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service indicate that the snowpack on Rabbit Ears Pass is faring well early this winter. The snow depth on the west summit of the pass is 39 inches after 9 inches of new snow fell there Dec. 19. The 9.7 inches of water contained in the snowpack is 123 percent of the median for Dec. 23 based on records kept from 1981 to 2010.

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Just to the north of Steamboat at the Tower measuring site on Buffalo Pass, the 56 inches of snow on the ground and the 15 inches of water it contains is 84 percent of median. However, Buffalo Pass is faring much better than Wolf Creek Pass, its traditional rival for the most snow in Colorado, in the southern San Juan Mountain Range. The snow depth on Wolf Creek Pass is just 29 inches and the snow water equivalent of 5.7 inches is just 44 percent of the median for the date.

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