Steamboat residents surprised with season’s 1st snow Monday afternoon |

Steamboat residents surprised with season’s 1st snow Monday afternoon

Strings Music Festival’s Elissa Greene waits to help students board buses after attending the Mirari Brass Quintet’s Strings School Days performance Monday afternoon at the Strings Music Pavilion. When the students entered the pavilion, it was raining, but by the end of the show, that rain had turned to snow. (Photo by John F. Russell)
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Many downtown pedestrians hid their smiles beneath hoodies, raincoats and umbrellas as the first snow of the season started to fall Monday in downtown Steamboat Springs.

On U.S. Highway 40, law enforcement also worked the first closure of the season due to adverse conditions on Rabbit Ears Pass. Several semitrailers jackknifed on the pass, according to police scanner traffic, briefly closing the road before one lane reopened.

The chain law was in place before the highway closed, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Both the closure and chain law were lifted by 4 p.m. Monday.


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The snow surprised forecasters at the National Weather Service, who had predicted snow at higher elevations but rain in the city.

Rain turned to snow a little after 2 p.m. in downtown Steamboat, when a thunderstorm brought snow to lower elevations, according to Weather Service meteorologist Dan Cuevas.

Two to 6 inches were forecasted for the mountains surrounding town, and though reports had not yet come into the Weather Service late Monday afternoon, Cuevas guessed that, with the amount of snow reported in town, that amount likely fell in the mountains.

Between Saturday morning and Monday morning, 0.33 inches of rain fell in Steamboat, Cuevas said.

The snow is the latest in a series of storms that have dropped consistent moisture on Routt County for the past two weeks. The rain and snow broke a monthslong dry spell, lifted fire restrictions and allowed wildland firefighters to wrangle nearby wildfires into majority containment.

“I don’t have numbers in front of me, but I would feel comfortable saying that, yeah, October has been easily wetter than the entire summer was for us,” Cuevas said.

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Jennifer Robinson and Arianwen Sharman moved to Steamboat this weekend from the Kansas City area.

“We hiked Fish Creek Falls yesterday, and it was sunny, and we were in our short sleeves,” said Robinson, who grew up on the Front Range. “This is typical Colorado weather, for me. I’m ecstatic. We moved here for the snow.”

Sharman wore canvas sneakers to her first day at Steamboat Spring High School on Monday.

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“It was only supposed to rain today. I was surprised and not particularly pleasantly,” she said, looking down at her damp Chuck Taylors.

She and Robinson had window shopped for winter boots before stopping to warm up over a cup of coffee at Off The Beaten Path bookstore.

“But, I’m excited for skiing,” Sharman added.

The countdown to Steamboat Resort’s winter opening day has begun — there are 44 days until its scheduled opening on Nov. 21.

“I think it’s always exciting to see the first snow of the season, and it gets everyone in that shift of mind to start thinking about winter,” said Loryn Kasten, Steamboat Resort’s senior communications manager. “Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come this winter.”

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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