Lightning, hail storm blows through Yampa Valley; snow in the forecast | SteamboatToday.com

Lightning, hail storm blows through Yampa Valley; snow in the forecast

City of Steamboat Springs employee Robbie Shine waits for help to remove a cottonwood tree that fell onto U.S. Highway 40 on the west side of the city during Thursday's storm. Storm Peak Laboratory at the top of Steamboat Ski Area recorded a wind gust of 52.6 mph. (Photo by Matt Stensland)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A quick but powerful storm swept through Steamboat Springs on Thursday afternoon bringing lightning, hail and wind that downed trees, knocked out power and sent golden leaves raining from trees.

The storm caused a power outage in east Hayden that affected about 550 homes and businesses, according to a post on Yampa Valley Electric Association’s Facebook page. Power also was out along 13th Street in Steamboat, affecting about 370 customers. Electricity was restored to both locations in less than an hour, according to YVEA member outreach supervisor Jim Jennings.

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“It was pretty strong, at least for this part of Colorado,” National Weather Service meteorologist Kris Sanders said about the storm. “There was quite a bit of cloud-to-ground lightning just around Steamboat there.”

The Steamboat area was under a severe thunderstorm warning at the time.

Wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph were recorded at Steamboat Springs Airport, and Storm Peak Laboratory at the top of Steamboat Resort measured a gust of 52.6 mph during the storm.

Before weakening on its way to Steamboat, the storm brought 80 mph wind gusts to the Rifle area, causing damage near Interstate 70.

Hail and leaves cover the ground Thursday afternoon near Critter Court in Steamboat Springs. A fast-moving storm brought rain, hail and lightning to the area. (Photo by John F. Russell)

Another front is expected to move into the Steamboat area at about noon Friday, bringing with it lower temperatures and a chance of snow at higher elevations.

“We have a cold front coming through, and it’s going to put snow up on Mount Werner,” said local meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who operates SnowAlarm.com.

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Keep up with the conditions:
• Find the latest forecast and recent weather stories here.
• View Steamboat webcams here.
• Find information from the National Weather Service, including storm warnings and advisories at wrh.noaa.gov
• The Colorado Department of Transportation provides road conditions, closures and traffic cameras at cotrip.org.
• For travel information by phone, call 511 (in Colorado) or dial 303-639-1111.
• Find information about avalanche danger and conditions from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
• For flight information, visit flightview.com/traveltools.

He estimates the snow level could drop as low as 8,000 feet Friday. His forecast calls for 1 to 3 inches through Saturday morning, but he expects little accumulation because of warm ground temperatures.

“We may see snow on Heavenly Daze (Friday) afternoon, if we can see through the clouds,” Weissbluth said. “I’m thinking Saturday morning, the the mountain will look pretty good. I would imagine you’ll see snow for the upper two-thirds of the mountain.”

As temperatures continue to cool, Weissbluth expects we could wake Sunday to 2 to 4 inches on the mountain.

He expects the snow level throughout the storm system will be at about 9,000 feet. The National Weather Summit is predicting a snow level a bit higher at 10,000 feet.

After Saturday, the forecast is less clear, but Weissbluth thinks Steamboat could see snowflakes falling in town for the first time this season by the middle of next week.

“We may not see snow in the valley until closer to Wednesday,” he said.

To reach Nicole Miller, call 970-871-4206, email nmiller@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @millerna.

Fall leaves cover the ground on Yampa Street after a strong storm blew through Steamboat at about noon Thursday. (Photo by Shannon Lukens)

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