Routt County under winter storm warning; area could see over 2 feet of snow

Up to 2 feet of snow could fall by Friday in some areas of western Colorado, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
National Weather Service/Courtesy image

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has issued a winter storm warning for much of the West Slope ahead of a major weather system expected in the area starting Thursday.

Low-end predictions from the weather service call for about 9 inches of snow in Steamboat Springs, with high-end amounts up to 16 inches or more. Forecasters with the weather service say there’s a 90% chance snow totals will be higher than the most conservative estimates. Higher snow amounts are also possible over certain west-facing peaks.

Heavy snowfall is expected to begin Thursday afternoon and linger through Friday. Higher elevations will see the greatest amounts of snowfall, according to the weather service. Winds could gust up to 40 mph, resulting in blowing and drifting snow.

High-end estimates anticipate up to 2 feet of snow in Routt County by Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
National Weather Service/Courtesy image
The most conservative snow totals call for up to 9 inches of snow around Steamboat Springs, according to the National Weather Service.
National Weather Service/Courtesy image

Moderate to major impacts from the storm will spread to lower elevations later Thursday and into Friday, according to the weather service.

A weaker system currently tracking southwest to northeast will bring negligible amounts of snow to the area Wednesday evening, with a brief lull around daybreak Thursday before the main system moves overhead.

Conditions will be hazardous for drivers, particularly along mountain corridors and passes, such as Rabbit Ears Pass, according to the weather service. Patchy blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility, especially in open areas, making travel difficult to impossible.

Wind chills are also expected to be as low as -30 degrees in areas of higher elevation, which could cause frostbite to exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes.

Much of the West Slope, including Routt County, is under a winter storm warning as of Wednesday afternoon.
National Weather Service/Courtesy image

The system will affect most of western Colorado, specifically the Upper Yampa River Basin, Roan and Tavaputs plateaus, Gore and Elk mountains and northwest and southwest San Juans. The warning area also includes the areas of Steamboat, Rio Blanco, Aspen, Vail, Snowmass, Telluride, Ouray, Lake City, Silverton, Rico and Hesperus.

A winter storm warning means dangerous winter weather is expected within the next 12 to 36 hours, or is already occurring, and considerable travel difficulties are to be anticipated. A blizzard warning is issued when severe weather is expected, and people should not travel.

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