Warm winds wreak havoc with storm, ski lifts, avalanche danger
January 17, 2011
Steamboat Springs — Warm southwest winds are wreaking havoc with a snowstorm that was expected to slam Steamboat Springs. The winds aren't making life easy at the Steamboat Ski Area, either.
The Storm Peak Express lift had yet to open as of 1:45 p.m. because of high winds on Mount Werner.
"You should be able to get everywhere on the mountain with the lifts that are open," Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said.
Lane said the storm that hit Mount Werner on Sunday night and today brought with it winds from the west that exceeded 40 mph, and gusts in excess of 50 mph.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for the Upper Yampa River Basin, including Steamboat Springs, until 6 a.m. Tuesday.
Lane said the Bar UE, Christie Peak Express, Morningside, Sunshine Express and Sundown Express lifts all opened late Monday morning because of the wind.
The conditions at the ski area this morning varied from small to large flakes and a rain and snow mix, Lane said.
Lane said the storm left behind wet and heavy snow. As of 5 a.m., the ski area had reported 4 inches of new snow at mid-mountain in the previous 24 hours.
The National Weather Service expects snow and colder temperatures to return to the area late this morning.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has placed the Steamboat zone under an avalanche watch until Tuesday.
According to the watch: “The strong winds will quickly drift snow into lee starting zone aspects, mostly those slopes facing the eastern side of the compass. Winds are forecast to remain strong enough to load fresh wind slab much further down slope then normally expected into Monday night. These strong winds may load slab into unusual places too.
“Travel into the backcountry is currently not recommended especially since visibility is limited and avalanche terrain avoidance will be difficult at best.”
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