Storm keeps Routt County emergency crews busy during weekend
November 13, 2011
Steamboat Springs — The winter storm this weekend in Steamboat Springs was welcomed by children who built snowmen and went sledding in the fresh powder, but the storm also created hazardous driving conditions, especially on Rabbit Ears Pass where a Sunday afternoon rollover crash sent three people to the hospital.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction on Sunday night said the storm dropped an average of 2 to 6 inches of snow in Steamboat and 5 to 10 inches in the surrounding mountain ranges after it started Saturday afternoon and concluded Sunday night. Weather Service forecaster Chris Cuoco said the storm was most notable for the high winds and blizzard conditions it created at higher elevations.
"I would classify it as a moderate storm, not a truly major one," he said. "The strong winds and blizzard conditions were its standout characteristic."
Cuoco added that snow plow drivers and motorists who traversed Rabbit Ears Pass on Saturday night reported visibility of less than a quarter of a mile at times, and winds that blew in excess of 35 mph created white-out conditions.
On Sunday afternoon, Colorado State Patrol officers and emergency crews were called to multiple reports of accidents on the pass, including a rollover crash that sent three people to the hospital.
Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Lt. Chuck Cerasoli said two women and a 6-year-old girl were transported to Yampa Valley Medical Center at about 2 p.m. with minor to moderate injuries after the truck they were traveling in rolled down an embankment near mile marker 143 of U.S. Highway 40. Cerasoli said the vehicle was traveling eastbound when it went off the road and came to a rest approximately 300 feet down the embankment. He said the occupants were able to climb back up the to the roadway with the help of Colorado State Patrol officers and a rope thrown by emergency crews. A fourth occupant of the vehicle did not need medical attention.
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State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott said in addition to the rollover, officers responded to a noninjury crash near the Routt County and Grand County line where a semitrailer had jackknifed.
Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers also were called to multiple searches during the storm, and on Sunday night, they rescued a man with a back injury from the ski area on Mount Werner, according to emergency radio traffic.
And while the Steamboat Springs Police Department on Saturday responded to a number of noninjury car crashes during the beginning of the storm, officer Bill Stucker said police were not called to any weather-related accidents in the city limits Sunday afternoon as road and weather conditions had improved by 3 p.m.
While the storm created problems for drivers, it was welcomed by those who spent Sunday playing in the fresh snow.
Just after lunchtime, Josey and Aklilu Foote were enjoying the storm's aftermath as they sledded down the hills outside their home near Park Avenue.
"It's good, but my toes are freezing," Aklilu said about his afternoon in the snow as he prepared to hike back up the hill with his sister.
"It's really fun, and afterwards, we get hot cocoa," Josey added.
Meteorologists with the National Weather Service are predicting Steamboat will receive at least a week's reprieve from another significant snow event as skies clear Monday. Cuoco said Steamboat could see its next significant snow event as early as this weekend.
— To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email ScottFranz@SteamboatToday.com
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