By ELWOOD K. SHELTON
Daily Press writer
It has been 20 years since Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation has been forced to postpone opening day on the mountain.
However, the weather has finally cooperated, and the new opening day target date is now in sight.
Because of Colorado's warm fall temperatures and lack of snow, Steamboat was forced to postpone opening day from Nov. 21 to Nov. 30.
According to Joe Nichols, weather forecaster for WeatherBnak Inc., the reason for the postponment was a lack of early-season snow that split the normal jet-stream patterns.
The split pushed the colder, wetter weather to the south of Colorado, away from Northwest Colorado, and also the majority of the state's ski resorts.
Nichols also calls for the current high pressure to breakdown throughout the weekend and into next week, allowing for regular amounts of snowfall in mountain locations.
Thursday evening Craig received one-inch of snow, while six to ten inches fell on Steamboat, depending on the location.
According to National Weather Service Meteorologist Dave Nadler, the current storm is beginning to break up, however another storm is building in the west, and may bring more precipitation to the area Saturday evening.
"Friday shouldn't be quite as bad as we were expecting, and Saturday should actually be a pretty nice day," he said. "Saturday night, though, we may begin to see a more seasonal pattern move into the area, and it might be time to grab the snow shovels again."
Steamboat Ski Resort isn't alone in feeling the crunch of the early-season lack of snow.
Despite the lack of snowfall, from the ski resort to the local ski shack, the general attitude is optimistic.
"It has been slower than usual around here," said Connie McCormick, office manger of Ski Haus. "It's all due to the weather we've had lately.
"We still have a very positive outlook for the season, and we'll keep that attitude right on through until the season finally arrives."
Ski Haus hasn't established a contingency plan for a snow drought, and McCormick said the ski deals they have already offered should help to make up the difference in revenue throughout the remainder of the season.
The same optimistic attitude is found at the Steamboat Ski Resort.
Despite the season's snowfall being far below average, Steamboat Resort crews have been working overtime to make up where Mother Nature left off.
According to Steamboat Ski Resort Public Relations Manager, Cathy Wiedemer, the snow-making crews at Steamboat have kept a close eye on the temperatures, and have taken every available opportunity to make snow.
"The crews up here have been working every time the temperature has been low enough to make snow," she said. "We have the capability to make snow from the top of Buddy's Run ( on the top of the mountain) to the bottom of the slopes," she said. "We've made as much as possible, but natural snowfall is still the most important factor we need.
"We're really not too worried about the warm weather," she said. "All of Colorado is suffering right now. In the past, most of the resorts that make their own snow didn't open before December."
Though the ski resorts are the most visible industry hit by the early-season snow drought, it is not the only business suffering. Craig businesses are also feeling the effects of the drought particularly the snowmobile businesses.
They are also maintaining the same relaxed attitude as the resorts that there are better days to come.
"We know the snow is coming, it's just a matter of time now," Action Motorsports parts manager T.J. Montgomery said. "The only place we've really seen a drop in sales is our accessories, and it's hard to say if that's because of the lack of snow, or if there are other factors involved that we aren't aware of."