Updated: 50 mph wind gusts knock out lines, close lifts in Steamboat
Strong wind gusts are expected to continue through the day
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:40 p.m. to include updates about lift closures at Steamboat Resort.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5, after power was restored in Dream Island around noon.
Wind gusts wreaked havoc in Steamboat Springs on Tuesday, April 5, downing power lines and closing lifts at Steamboat Resort.
Wind gusts near 50 mph west of downtown Steamboat Springs blew a tree into power lines early Tuesday morning at the Dream Island Mobile Home Park, causing a brief fire and knocking out power for about 100 residents.
Power was restored just after noon, according to Carly Davidson, spokesperson for Yampa Valley Electric Association. The electric coop’s outage map had shown there were 88 outages in Steamboat before 10 a.m. Tuesday, but there was just one outage remaining as of 12:15 p.m.
“While an isolated incident, you can see how something like this can impact an entire neighborhood,” said Chief Chuck Cerasoli of Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue, in a statement. “We’re glad this incident was isolated to a small area and did not spread through the park.”
The tree hit the line around 6:15 a.m., with a section of it draped over the powerlines. Firefighters arrived to find the tree was causing cracking, popping and flying embers, which were carrying in the wind.
By 7 a.m., multiple agencies had coordinated to open a shelter at the Steamboat Springs Community Center for residents of about 15 Dream Island homes that were evacuated.
Cody Parker, who was cleaning up the scene for YVEA on Tuesday morning, estimated the tree was around 30 feet tall with a short section of it falling on the power line.
“While we have the outage, we’re going to go ahead and clear it so it doesn’t happen with the next wind,” Parker said. “Clear some of the stuff that is over (the line).”
Additionally, due to increasing winds, five lifts at Steamboat Resort are closed and will remain closed for the remainder of Tuesday, according to Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Director of Communications Loryn Duke.
Morningside, Sundown, Sunshine, South Peak and Storm Peak lifts are all closed. Additionally, the Resort has limited foot traffic on the gondola, since those passengers wouldn’t have a way down should high winds close the gondola, said Duke.
“Different storms impact resort operations differently,” Duke said in an email. “Having skilled team members who pay close attention to our weather forecasts and storm systems allows us to react appropriately.”
There was a wind gust of 51 miles per hour along U.S. Highway 40 just west of Steamboat recorded by the National Weather Service on Tuesday, according to Erin Walter, a meteorologist based in Grand Junction. She said in downtown Steamboat wind gusts ranged from 30 to 40 mph.
Is it #windy where you are? We're all guessing yes. Red numbers are current gusts across eastern #Utah and western #Colorado. A bit '#breezy' to say the least! #cowx #utwx #SpringOutWest pic.twitter.com/6uB31uDhF2— NWS Grand Junction (@NWSGJT) April 5, 2022
A wind gust of 80 mph was recorded by the measurement station at Storm Peak Laboratory on the top of Mt. Werner with other high points seeing gusts over 50 mph. Strong winds are expected to continue through the day and overnight, Walter said.
“We have a strong jet over us so it’s not over yet, and there might be even stronger (winds) headed your way,” Walter said Tuesday morning. “I would expect winds of 40 to 50 mph this afternoon.”
While things are expected to calm down overnight, Walter noted that winds will still likely exceed 30 mph at times. Wednesday is also expected to have “breezy conditions,” but not like Tuesday, Walter said.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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