Strong winds topple trees

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Wind topples trees

Wanda Waggoner recalls the sound of a tree coming down in her front yard Wednesday.

Wanda Waggoner recalls the sound of a tree coming down in her front yard Wednesday.

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Wednesday's storm brought this old tree onto the roof of the Ackerman home at 27 Missouri Ave. in Old Town Steamboat Springs.

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High winds brought an old tree crashing down onto a rental car in Wanda Waggoner's front yard at Missouri Avenue and Grand Street in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday morning.

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A Wednesday morning wind storm blew over a tree in Wanda Waggoner's front yard in Old Town. The tree landed on her rental car, but she said the damage should be covered by insurance.

— All things considered, Wanda Waggoner was pretty lucky.

Waggoner, who lives on the corner of Missouri Avenue and Grand Street, saw first hand what Wednesday's powerful winds could do.

At about 9:30 a.m., Waggoner heard an "explosion," saw a 60-foot tree collapsing and ran from her sofa out the back door.

After making her way toward the front of the house, Waggoner saw the damage. The 70-year-old tree smashed a rental car while narrowly missing her house.

"I was glad it got the car and not my house," said Waggoner, who was renting a car while hers was in the shop for repairs. "It upsets you when something like this happens, but I'm very lucky."

The Ackerman family wasn't as lucky. A giant tree in their yard, also on Missouri Avenue, snapped and fell onto the roof.

Despite the high winds, the Routt County Sheriff's Office, the Steamboat Springs Police Department and the Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue reported minimal weather-related calls Wednesday. Yampa Valley Electric Association, on the other hand, dealt with numerous calls throughout the day.

Jim Chappell, a YVEA spokesman, said crews were out responding to calls, with the majority coming from the Steamboat Lake and Clark areas.

Chappell was unsure how many homes were affected, but said he was hoping to have power back to all of the homes by Wednesday evening.

"Hopefully, the worst is over," Chappell said.

With the high winds, the National Weather Service in Grand Junction issued a Red Flag Warning to most of Western Colorado. Gusts were between 20 and 35 mph with winds near 60 mph in some areas.

Jeff Colton, a meteorologist with the NWS, said the high winds were a result of cold air in the west butting with warm air in the east. Combine that with a strong upper level jet stream, and winds were high across most of Western Colorado.

"We had peak gusts of 92 mph in Eagle," Colton said. "Widespread, we've had winds between 50 and 60 mph over much of Western Colorado."

Colton said the winds should dissipate today, but temperatures could drop as much as 20 degrees. He also said Steamboat could see 2 to 5 inches of precipitation with snow a possibility at higher elevations.

"The weather will remain unsettled with scattered showers and thunderstorms throughout the week," he said. "There won't be wind like we're seeing (Wednesday), but it will be colder. That's the big thing."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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