Thursday, October 3, 2002
Steamboat Springs The first accumulation of snow on Rabbit Ears Pass since last spring settled on the golden aspen leaves, clumped on the conifer branches and blanketed the ground Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, the same storm briefly dusted the Yampa Valley for the first time this fall.
By Thursday afternoon, the pass appeared to have received 4 to 5 inches of snow, but no official numbers were available.
Though picturesque, the scene reminded drivers, and Colorado State Patrol troopers, of the dangers of winter conditions in the high country.
Four car accidents occurred on the pass by 1 p.m. Thursday, trooper Brett Hilling said. None were serious, but conditions were dangerous enough that officials called for chains or adequate snow tires for that section of U.S. 40.
Hilling said the road was extra slick in the morning after Wednesday night's rain froze and became covered with snow.
"There were also several semis that were spun out," he said.
More vehicle accidents occur during fall snows than in most winter storms because people aren't in the mind frame for winter driving, Hilling said.
"It's real common in October," he said.
Rain turned to snow Thursday morning for the first time in the valley, but there was very little accumulation.
Tim Daniels, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said moisture and snow could stay in the area for the next few days.
"We probably won't see any definite drying until the weekend. Probably on Sunday," he said.
Automated weather sites showed the highest elevations in Routt County had 4 to 10 inches of snow.
It was enough to turn the ski runs at the Steamboat Ski Area white and possibly make some people think seriously about the ski and riding season.
Six people came by One Stop Ski Shop to pick up their season rentals, employee Andy Hogrefe said.
"It's the time we normally start seeing people," he said, but added that the snow on the mountain might have had something to do with seeing customers.
"It looks like a very good covering on the mountain," said Andy Wirth, vice president of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. "We are excited about this. It's a good start for the season."
Wirth said mid-mountain had 6 to 8 inches of snow.
He estimated about 8 to 10 inches fell on top of Mount Werner.
At 8,300 feet in North Routt County, the snow barely covered the ground in Hahn's Peak Village, but chilly temperatures kept it from melting.
"It's just a dusting. If the sun was shining, it would be gone," resident Dana Morton said.
Areas above 9,000 feet have already received snow in North Routt County, with mountains in the Park Range having already been covered for some time.