U.S. Highway 40 was closed from Rabbit Ears Pass to the Utah border Monday evening because of heavy snow and blizzard conditions.
Updated January 28, 2008 at 8:52 p.m.
Steamboat Springs Officials have re-opened U.S. Highway 40 from Steamboat Springs to Craig. U.S. 40 remains closed from Steamboat Springs east to Kremmling, and the Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70 also is closed to traffic.
Heavy, blowing snow forced the closure of U.S. Highway 40 from the Utah border east to Rabbit Ears Pass earlier tonight. Officials also have closed Colorado Highway 13 from Rifle to Baggs, Wyo., and Colo. 14 from Rabbit Ears Pass to Walden.
Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott reported heavy snowfall and whiteout conditions between Hayden and Craig at about 7:15 p.m., when motorists are being advised to head to the closest town and seek shelter.
Routt County Emergency Management Director Chuck Vale said improving weather allowed the roads to reopen.
Vale said as many as 500 vehicles were caught in the whiteout conditions between Steamboat and Craig, many of them motorists on their commute home. No serious injuries have been reported, although dozens of vehicles slid off roadways.
"Nobody that we're aware of is hurt," Vale said. "That's a good thing."
Poor road conditions also are reported elsewhere throughout Routt County, including along Colo. 131 and Routt County Road 14.
Motorists who made it to Hayden were congregating at the Kum & Go until officials opened the Exhibit Hall at Routt County Fairgrounds. The Steamboat Springs Transit bus taking passengers from Steamboat to Craig was among the vehicles stuck in Hayden, Vale said.
Passengers at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden also were stranded. All evening flights have been postponed or canceled, Vale said.
Law enforcement officials had been stopping westbound traffic at the Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park in west Steamboat. Residents in Steamboat II, Silver Spur and Heritage Park had to turn around and head back into Steamboat.
Vale and Elliott said the whiteout conditions were extremely dangerous.
"It was the worst between Hayden and Steamboat that I've ever seen," Vale said. "You could literally not see two feet in front of you."
Steamboat Springs, Hayden and Craig are under a snow and blowing snow advisory until midnight. The National Weather Service's Grand Junction forecast office predicts accumulations of 4 to 8 inches in much of the region, with up to a foot of snow possible for the Steamboat Springs area.
Winds will blow between 20 and 30 mph, with gusts as high as 50 mph.
Stay tuned to steamboatpilot.com for updates.