Steamboat snowpack looks healthy at 132 percent of average as winter digs in

Matt Stensland / Steamboat Pilot & Today
Sleeping Giant makes the perfect backdrop for a busy downtown Steamboat Springs on Friday afternoon. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With a good amount of early season snowfall, the Colorado snowpack, including the snowpack around Steamboat Springs, is looking strong after a summer plagued by drought.

They Yampa and White River Basin watershed had a snowpack that was 132 percent of average Friday.

The Tower snow measuring station at 10,500 feet on Buffalo Pass measured a snow depth of 52 inches with the equivalent of 14.8 inches of water.


Keep up with the conditions:
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Colorado meteorologist and ski enthusiast Joel Gratz, who runs the website, has been monitoring the snowpack across the state.

He noted the average snowpack for the four zones in Colorado can be misleading because snow amounts can vary immensely within the zones and at various ski areas.

The average for Colorado’s southern zones are 15 to 20 percent below average, but specific snow-measuring sites provide a different picture. For example, snow-measuring sites near Silverton and Telluride ski resorts in southern Colorado showed snowpacks at 102 percent of average.

“There is significant variation in the snowpack within each region, and looking at the details of some southern mountains, areas show that snowpack is much closer to the average than the simple basin-wide graphic suggests,” Gratz wrote.

As of Friday morning, with three inches of new snow in the past 24-hour period, Steamboat Resort had received 79 inches of snow this season. There are now 147 trails open served by 13 lifts.

Mike Weissbluth, a meteorologist based in Steamboat who runs the website, was calling for some possible light snow showers this weekend.

“The moisture is forecast to be mostly gone by Sunday for a nice day before a transient ridge moves over the West early in the workweek, bringing the sunniest day on Monday with notable higher-elevation warming,” Weissbluth wrote.

High temperatures for the weekend were expected to be in the mid-30s.

A weather system approaching the West Coast brings an uncertain forecast in terms of snow for the Steamboat area because the storm is expected to split.

“It is not clear how much energy is partitioned into the northern and southern ends of the split, but some amount of energy will cross northern Colorado starting around Tuesday afternoon and lasting through Tuesday night,” Weissbluth said.

A more promising storm when it comes to snowfall is expected to arrive Wednesday or Thursday.

“Drier and eventually warmer weather is currently forecast heading into the following weekend,” Weissbluth said.

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