Snowfall beneficial to skiers, detrimental for drivers

Five accidents occurred on Routt County roads Wednesday

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— The snow that has fallen in Steamboat for the past two days has been a good omen for skiers and snowboarders but a wake-up call for drivers.

Five accidents occurred on Routt County roads Wednesday morning as drivers went too fast on slick roads, State Trooper Rick Kaspar said.

Local tire companies said the phones have been busy with people wanting to switch to snow tires.

Caspar said a two-car collision occurred just east of Milner on U.S. Highway 40, a one-car crash on Routt County Road 129, a crash on Colorado Highway 131 near Yampa, another car rolled over on Colo. 131 near Eagle County and a crash occurred on C.R. 51 near Hayden.

"I think this is the most accidents we have had during the day (this year)," Kaspar said.

The slick roads also spurred the annual rush for snow tires.

Dennis Scoheld reported receiving hundreds of calls this morning at Automotive Service Center from people wanting to get snow tires.

"We have been doing snow tires for the last month," Scoheld said. "Some people think ahead, but when roads get slick, we get a lot more calls."

But not everyone was thinking about road safety as the snow came down Tuesday and Wednesday.

Todd Sellows said more people than normal were gearing up for winter at Ski Haus. He also said the snow acts as a wake-up call to get the tune-ups and equipment they need in the next two weeks.

He also expects to some eager skiers making the trek up Mount Werner to take advantage of the first substantial snowfall.

Once the snow broke through on Wednesday, Sellows predicted tracks could be spotted.

But he warned the lumps in the snow were probably rocks and said even on Rabbit Ears Pass skiing would be marginal at best.

The Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. had positive reports from the 11 inches that fell Tuesday and the three inches that had fallen by Wednesday morning.

Public relations spokeswoman Riley Polumbus said Steamboat and Telluride topped the state in snowfall.

Both resorts reported receiving nearly a foot on Tuesday.

Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone received up to six inches Tuesday.

Four inches fell on Arapahoe Basin, Durango Mountain Resort and Loveland Ski Area.

"The storm certainly wasn't one that hit Steamboat only," Polumbus said. "But it is definitely a pretty good thing. We are pretty lucky to get news coverage."

Even if the snow is not around by the time the mountain opens on Nov. 27, Riley said crews are making snow around the clock.

She said snowmakers are operating on Buddy's Run, Upper Vagabond and Betwixt.

Although the mountain reported having more than 14 inches of snowfall in the past two days, the National Weather Service reported an inch of snow falling in Steamboat as a 24-hour total Wednesday morning.

The NWS reported four to five inches falling on Rabbit Ears Pass during that same time, and north of Steamboat at 9,000 feet, four to six inches fell.

Naravan Larson of the NWS said the snowfall was the result of a cold front that dropped into the area with disturbances along the front, with wind coming from the southwest.

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