Air travel here disrupted but not by snowstorm in the Yampa Valley | SteamboatToday.com

Air travel here disrupted but not by snowstorm in the Yampa Valley

Willie Samuelson

— Several flights destined for Yampa Valley Regional Airport on Thursday were diverted, canceled or delayed by midday, but it might not have been the snowstorm in Northwest Colorado that caused the travel issues.

YVRA manager Dave Ruppel said shortly before 2:45 p.m. that the runway at his airport was merely wet, and ground visibility was about a mile.

"It's not great, but it's not that bad out here right now," Ruppel said.

He was expecting a relatively heavy travel day at the airport west of Steamboat, with 801 arriving passengers booked for an 84 percent load factor on all aircraft combined. Just 351 passengers were expected to depart from YVRA.

A flight information report released at 1:50 p.m. by Steamboat Springs Central Reservations indicated an American Airlines flight from Chicago had been diverted to Denver, and a Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta was pre-canceled because of weather. The noon United Express flight also was canceled, but Ruppel said a United Express regional jet departed Hayden for Denver shortly after 2 p.m.

The daily flight from Minneapolis was listed as delayed for an unspecified reason.

It was snowing lightly in Steamboat Springs at 3 p.m. Thursday after 8 to 10 inches had fallen on the city overnight. But the wicked winter storm that had been predicted had yet to materialize in full force. The National Weather Service still was calling for a 90 percent chance of snow overnight, with 2 to 4 inches accumulating by morning. The sun was not expected to reappear until Saturday.

A flight delay report issued by the Federal Aviation Administration's Air Traffic Control System Command Center pointed to Chicago O'Hare and Atlanta Hartsfield as the two major airports in the country imposing ground delays on aircraft destined to arrive there from other cities.

Ruppel said he was not certain if the American Airlines flight from Chicago to YVRA diverted to Denver for a mechanical issue or because the airport here became socked in.

"It has been in and out," Ruppel said about visibility at the airport. "If they happened to be coming in when visibility went down, it could have caused them to turn around."

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1