Steamboat Living: Quick Hits - Hero to zero snow years make 2013 hard to predict

Monthly snowfall

Measurements in inches

Month 2010-11 2011-12

October 21 8

November 90 38.5

December 73 24.5

January 68 39

February 84 93

March 79 21

April 18 4

Total 433 228

Biggest months

Month Inches Year

October 27 2006

November 90 2010

December 165.5 1983

January 216.5 1996

February 110.5 1993

March 83 1991

April 60 1993

If ever there were two schizophrenic snow seasons in Steamboat, it was the back-to-back winters of 2010-11 and 2011-12. While both entered the record books, they did so for markedly different reasons — the former for its bounty and the latter for its bleakness.

The 2010-11 season was unprecedented — including a 433-inch ski season, a 90-inch record November and a May snow stake on Buff Pass registering 732 percent of average, the deepest snowpack in Colorado history. Someone even put a snorkel on the Buddy Werner statue atop Mount Werner. Fast forward a year, and it was the exact opposite. Despite a 24-hour midmountain record 27 inches on Presidents Day, the same snow stake on Buff Pass clocked in at just 7 percent of average in May, and the resort tallied just 228 inches.

“The past two years couldn’t have been more different,” says Art Judson, a former avalanche forecaster and climatological observer for the National Weather Service.

So what does all of this spell for this year? Who knows. While old-timers might watch this year’s skunk cabbage, woolly bear caterpillar’s stripes, hay crop harvest, blackbird migration and beaver dam height, here’s our prediction: It won’t be any worse than last year or any better than the year before.

“The good news is we’ve never had two record low years in a row,” Judson says.

Our advice? Stock up on P-tex and powder snorkels.

Community comments

Note: The Steamboat Pilot & Today doesn’t necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy.

Post a comment (Requires free registration)

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.