Steamboat Springs Hundreds of motorists were caught in whiteout conditions between Steamboat Springs and Craig early Monday evening. The severe weather forced the temporary closure of U.S. Highway 40 from Rabbit Ears Pass to the Utah border.
Law enforcement officials reported dozens of cars, pickups and semitrailers sliding off roadways throughout Northwest Colorado while the strong Pacific storm blew through the region. No serious injuries were reported, and the highway was reopened to traffic between Steamboat Springs and Craig at about 8:45 p.m.
Routt County Emergency Management Director Chuck Vale reported treacherous driving conditions during the height of the storm.
"It was the worst between Hayden and Steamboat that I've ever seen," Vale said. "It was unbelievable. You could literally not see two feet in front of you."
"It's a whole lot worse as you head west," Elliott reported Monday evening. "You can hardly see the hood of your car."
Vale estimated 500 vehicles traveling between Steamboat and Craig were caught in the storm. Motorists who were between towns were advised to safely proceed to the nearest town to wait out the storm, Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott said.
Stranded motorists began congregating at the Kum & Go in downtown Hayden before officials there opened the Routt County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall, Vale said.
The closures proved frustrating for many commuters unable to make it home from their jobs in Steamboat Springs. U.S. 40 was closed westbound from the Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park on the western city limits of Steamboat, meaning residents of the Silver Spur, Steamboat II and Heritage Park subdivisions were prohibited from driving the final couple of miles home until shortly before 9 p.m.
U.S. 40 from Steamboat Springs to Kremmling remained closed later Monday evening. Emergency shelters were being established in Kremmling to handle stranded motorists. Interstate 70 between Georgetown and Silverthorne also was closed Monday evening because of hazardous driving conditions.
Colorado Highway 13 was closed from Rifle to the Wyoming border, and Colo. 14 was closed from Rabbit Ears Pass to Walden. Dangerous driving conditions also were reported along Colo. 131 between Steamboat and Yampa, though the road was not closed. Vale said Colo. 131 would have been closed had there been enough officials to close the road.
Vale and Elliott didn't know of any significant accidents or injuries that resulted from the weather.
"It just seemed to be a lot of delays, and that's a good thing," Vale said.
Vale reported about 100 passengers stranded at Yampa Valley Regional Airport, though it was hoped that a United Express flight still would take off for Denver late Monday evening.
Agencies that worked the closures Monday included Colorado State Patrol, Routt County Sheriff's Office, Steamboat Springs Police Department, Hayden Police Department, Oak Creek Police Department, West Routt Fire Rescue, Oak Creek Fire Rescue, Routt County Department of Emergency Management and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
"A lot of cooperation has been going on tonight," Vale said.
The snow and blowing snow advisory for Steamboat Springs, Hayden and Craig was set to expire at midnight Monday.
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