Steamboat Ski Area closes out February with near-average snowfall | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Ski Area closes out February with near-average snowfall

A skier takes in the view in February, 2018 at the Steamboat Ski Area.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — February provided some relief for Colorado's relatively dry mountains this winter.

Steamboat Ski Area in February received close to average snowfall.

The ski area measured 59.75 inches of snow at mid-mountain over the month. Over the past 20 years, the ski area, on average, has received 66.85 inches of snow during February.

The most notable day this past month was Feb. 16 when 9.5 inches was measured at 5 a.m. for the previous 24-hour period.

So far during the 2017-18 season, 191.5 inches of snow has fallen at mid-mountain.

Looking ahead to March, the ski area traditionally receives an average of 48.39 inches of snow during the month.

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Skiers will be hoping for better conditions than March 2017 when a mere 11.25 inches of snow fell at mid-mountain during the entire month.

At nearby Buffalo Mountain, the automated Tower weather station at 10,500 feet elevation was measuring 86 inches of settled snow Wednesday with the equivalent of 27.1 inches of water.

The snow water equivalent at Tower stood at 76 percent of average while the entire Yampa and White River basins were at 81 percent of average.

The Rabbit Ears weather station was reporting snow water equivalent that was 70 percent of average.

River basins in southern Colorado were reporting snow water equivalents between 55 and 63 percent of average.

Nick Barlow with the Colorado Avalanche Information wrote that with the snowiest months already past, it was looking unlikely that snow water equivalents would recover to average levels.

"Unfortunately, low snowpack levels have consequences well beyond winter recreation," Barlow wrote. "State commerce and tourism can suffer significantly during and directly following a dry winter. We also depend on a healthy snowpack for water supply and agriculture during the drier months."

A dry winter can also lead to increased wildfire danger.

"We all want more powder to play in, but there is much more at stake in the crucial weeks ahead," Barlow wrote. "Winter snowfall is the life blood for continental climates like ours."

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.