Falling in heaps: Heavy snowfall in Steamboat makes for difficult travel but a great powder day | SteamboatToday.com

Falling in heaps: Heavy snowfall in Steamboat makes for difficult travel but a great powder day

Steamboat resident Kaleth Álvarez, who works for Tico Property Services, sprinkles some salt on the sidewalk at Ninth Street and Lincoln Avenue amid flurried snowfall on Saturday. Up to 18 inches is expected in the higher elevations around Steamboat by the end of Saturday, with scattered showers predicted for Sunday.
Derek Maiolo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Depending if people needed to drive on Saturday, the heavy snowfall was either a winter wonderland or a travel nightmare. 

A total of up to 18 inches is expected by the end of the day, according to local meteorologist Mike Weissbluth who runs the forecasting website snowalarm.com.

People woke up to about 4 inches of fresh snow in the morning, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. Steamboat Resort’s midmountain report tallied the same accumulation. Snow continued to fall in heaps for several hours, blanketing roads and limiting visibility. Weissbluth expected an additional 10 inches to fall by sunset, particularly in the mountains. 

That boded well for the skiers and riders taking advantage of the newly opened terrain and chairlifts at the ski area, including the Sundown Express and Elkhead lifts. On Sunday, the resort plans to open the Sunshine and South Peak lifts, according to the resort, allowing access to the Wally World trails such as Tomahawk and the Sunshine lift line. 

The weather has not boded so well for drivers.  

winter weather advisory remains in effect for the Steamboat area until 8 a.m. on Sunday, according to the Weather Service. It warned people that travel could be “very difficult” and urged drivers to use caution.

During the course of Friday’s storm, Steamboat Springs Police Department officers received three reports of motor vehicle crashes. Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters responded to a fourth crash with unknown injuries along Highway 40.

Local law enforcement also assisted 10 drivers on Friday amid the snow storm, mostly when vehicles got stuck or slid off the road.

“We had a bunch of people go off into the ditch,” said Sgt. JD Paul with the Sheriff’s Office, adding no one was injured in any of the incidents.

Elisa Appel, left and Holly Varga try to maneuver around a pile of snow taller than the both of them at Ninth Street and Lincoln Avenue on Saturday.
Derek Maiolo

On Saturday morning, he said visibility was very poor in Steamboat, posing a risk for fender benders. 

“When I was coming through downtown, you had to get 75 to 100 yards away from a stop light before seeing anything,” Paul said. 

Road conditions are likely to remain poor county-wide, he said, urging drivers to leave earlier and drive slower than usual. He also reminded drivers with automatic headlights to ensure their headlights are on, as sometimes the automatic system will not activate the tail lights during the day. 

Weissbluth predicted the storm to continue Saturday night, with 2 to 5 inches of additional accumulation after sunset. He expects light, scattered snowfall for Sunday, which has a 40% chance of precipitation, according to the Weather Service. 

The storm should clear by Monday, Weissbluth said, leading to sunshine throughout the work week. 

To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email dmaiolo@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.

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