Season's first snow fun, dangerous

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— The snowfall that began Tuesday left the area with 11 inches of "champagne powder," according to the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

While the fluffy powder has been a beacon of good fortune for some, it has also caused a number of difficulties for others.

The 11 inches fell over the course of two days, beginning Tuesday and continuing on through the evening to Wednesday.

"This is about normal, though, as we've seen in the past 10 years. It's hard to say what normal snowfall really is," said Kirk Kirkpatrick of Ski Corp.'s public relations department.

The Ski Corp. has continued to make snow every day since Sunday, Kirkpatrick said.

The crews will continue making snow every day through January, he added.

New hydrants were added and underground lines updated on the resort's snowmaking system this past summer. The system services 438 acres of trails.

While slipping and sliding may be good for ski slopes, it has made driving treacherous. The state patrol has been especially busy as drivers try to navigate Routt County's slushy roads.

"It's the first storm of the year, so everybody has a hard time adjusting their driving," said State Trooper Brad Keadle. "There have been quite a few crashes that probably shouldn't have taken place."

Keadle said the state patrol handled six crashes Wednesday in Routt County.

The snow could also delay some city construction projects that had begun a little late in the construction season.

Improvements to Longthong Road, financed by a local improvement district approved by City Council last month, had been moving along at a steady pace when the snow hit.

The unpaved road has a grade higher than 10 percent and a nasty first turn that has caused more than a few drivers to slide back onto Apres Ski Way in the winter.

The improvements included adding a heated paved section to the road by pouring concrete with heating tubes placed inside. One lane of the road has already been poured, and the workers at Duckels Construction are still waiting to pour the rest of the concrete, Director of Public Works Jim Weber said.

Weber said he is confident a window of clear weather will allow the workers to finish the job before the next snowfall.

Likewise, Director of Parks and Recreation Chris Wilson said the city has begun another project that could be delayed by the snow.

The breaching of the lower Spring Creek dam, which has already occurred, is part of a longer-term project to create a small wetland and recreational area on the site of the old dam.

The project can continue even if the snow continues, but placing soil, re-seeding and erosion control would likely have to wait.

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