Sunday, December 30, 2007
Steamboat Springs The strong winds and heavy snow that struck Steamboat Springs on Sunday are expected to continue through the night and could bring gusts of up to 50 miles per hour and 16 inches of snow to the area. Due to near-zero visibility, the Colorado Department of Transportation closed Rabbit Ears, Gore and Cameron passes Sunday. Interstate 70 is also closed in both directions at the Eisenhower Tunnel.
The National Weather Service in Grand Junction issued heavy snow and hazardous weather warnings for Northwest Colorado, effective until 5 a.m. Monday. The warnings cite a swirling storm system from the northwest.
"Snowfall is expected to increase and spread southward across western Colorado tonight as a cold front slides down across the area from the northwest," the heavy snow warning reads. "Winds will also increase this evening...with gusts to around 50 mph creating areas of blowing and drifting snow over exposed ridges and passes. The snowfall and winds are expected to diminish early Monday."
The hazardous weather warnings cautions against travel tonight, due to poor visibility caused by blowing snow.
"If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of emergency," that warning states. "The heaviest snow is expected over the north and central mountains of western Colorado and the Upper Yampa River Basin, including Steamboat Springs."
Sunday's storm was a factor in numerous accidents on Rabbit Ears Pass and multiple Routt County Search and Rescue operations, and caused early lift closures due to wind at Steamboat Ski Area.
Northwest Colorado could get a break from severe winter weather this week, according to the National Weather Service forecast.
"The next chance of snowfall for eastern Utah and western Colorado will be Friday and Saturday as the next Pacific low-pressure system passes," reads a seven-day outlook.