With snow approaching, Steamboat Ski Area opens 100 percent of terrain | SteamboatToday.com

With snow approaching, Steamboat Ski Area opens 100 percent of terrain

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Ski Area has announced all 2,965 acres of its terrain has opened with the addition of Mavericks halfpipe, Rough Rider Basin and the No Names Trail.

The 100 percent opening came later than usual with below average snowfall in December and January, but a long-duration snow event is expected to usher in February.

In January, the ski area received a total of 45.75 inches of snow, well below the 20-year average of 70.13 inches.

Conditions were similar in December, when the ski area received 45.5 inches of snow. Over the past 20 years, an average of 71.64 inches of snow has fallen in December.

January was highlighted by 10 inches of snow recorded at mid-mountain for the 24-hour period ending Jan. 11 at 5 a.m.

In an unusual storm, a total of 8 inches of snow was recorded on Jan. 26-27, but there was barely a dusting in town. At the summit of the ski area, the Champagne Powder Snow Cam showed upwards of 15 inches of new snow the morning of Jan. 26.

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Since Oct. 1, the ski area has seen 130.5 inches of snow, and there was a settled snow depth of 39 inches at mid-mountain as of Wednesday.

Looking ahead into February, the ski area on average gets 66.85 inches of snow. Last February netted 43.75 inches of snow.

Steamboat meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who runs snowalarm.com, said Wednesday that multi-day snow totals could be significant as waves of snow move into the area beginning Wednesday night.

Winds from the northwest were expected to create light orographic flow, meaning precipitation would form as it crashed into the Park Range mountains. Weissbluth said this would be enhanced by passing waves of energy and moisture.

"We will be close to the rain-snow line ahead of these waves, but right now it appears cool enough for precipitation to remain as snow even in town, though there may be a mix during the warmer periods, especially Friday afternoon," Weissbluth said.

He said waves of varying strength were currently timed for Wednesday night, early Saturday, Sunday and later Monday.

"Note that the timing of these waves in fast flow is problematic, and I expect modifications to the forecast," Weissbluth said. "While snowfall accumulations will be modest heading into the weekend, significant multi-day totals are possible as early as mid-weekend and almost certainly by mid-next week, with the highest snowfall totals occurring at the higher elevations.”

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