Does the Snow Affect our Town’s Economy?

By Tommy Davis

Any local in Steamboat Springs knows that our town’s economy is reliant on tourism, but the real question here is how much does the amount of snow that we get during winter affect our economy’s success? 

One would hope to find that the amount of snow that the town of Steamboat Springs receives during the winter has a direct correlation with the economy’s health.

The research, however, suggests otherwise. In comparing the total amount of annual sales tax against the total amount of annual snowfall one can find that the amount of snowfall has little to no correlation with the economy.

The year in which the highest amount of sales taxes were collected was 2016 with a total amount of $23,380,341. The total amount of snowfall for 2016 was 335 inches, about 20 inches below average for the past ten years. The year with the lowest amount of sales tax was 2010, with a total of $16,612,266 also had a slightly below average amount of snowfall with a total of 311 inches. This sudden drop in sales tax may be caused by the recession after the 2008 election. If we look at the statistics from December, one of the busiest months of the ski season, we should ideally see a correlation between the amount of snow and the collected sales tax, however looking at the data we can see that, like the annual sales tax and snow, the amount of snow during December has no effect on the sales tax.

From the research conducted one can conclude that the amount of snowfall has little to no effect on our town’s economy. So the next time you look outside in late December and see no snow, don’t panic. The town’s economy should do just fine thanks to Summer tourism.


Year December Sales tax Total December Snowfall in inches Total Annual Sales Tax Total Annual Snowfall
2016 $3,058,065 101 in. $23,380,341 335 in.
2015 $2,991,811 105 in. $21,873,689 223 in.
2014 $2,745,001 57 in. $20,619,523 272 in.
2013 $2,503,947 62 in. $18,898,046 308 in.
2012 $2,235,168 139 in. $17,617,674 321 in.
2011 $2,340,374 30 in. $17,388,015 286 in.
2010 $2,231,190 72 in. $16,612,266 311 in.
2009 $2,130,350 45 in. $16,710,291 289 in.
2008 $2,353,783 100 in. $19,903,762 405 in.
2007 $2,558,940 126 in. $19,744,829 489 in.
2006 $2,378,514 49 in. $18,184,375 313 in.