High winds cause morning shutdown at ski area

Steamboat extended hours this afternoon after gusts abated

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— Steamboat Ski Area extended its hours of operation this evening after high winds closed the mountain this morning.

The gondola, Thunderhead Express and Christie Peak Express closed at 5 p.m. today, after a late opening caused by gusts of up to 70 mph. The Burgess Creek lift closed at 4:30 p.m. Storm Peak Express and Sundown Express closed at 4 p.m.

“Fortunately, we’ve got daylight savings time to help us do that," said Jim Schneider, vice president of skier services for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. "It’s been one of those days.”

Schneider declined to comment on whether additional compensation, such as a refund or voucher, would be offered to guests.

“We’re certainly dealing with those issues in our ticket office,” he said. He added that Ski Corp. provided full lift service this afternoon and said ski school lessons and other events were shuffled to accommodate guests.

Gusts reached about 70 mph atop Thunderhead this morning.

Crews opened the Preview, Christie III, Bashor and Christie Peak Express lifts at about 11:45 a.m. today. Those were the first lifts to open today. Weather continued to cooperate in the afternoon. The gondola and Thunderhead Express lifts opened shortly after 1 p.m., followed by Storm Peak, Pony Express, Sundown Express and more. Priest Creek, Sunshine Express and Morningside lifts remained closed as of 2 p.m. today.

“Looks like they’ve had at least 70 miles per hour winds at the top of T-head, and 55 miles per hour at the top of Christie Peak," Ski Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said earlier today.

The National Weather Service office in Grand Junction is not forecasting hazardous weather for this area. The Weather Service predicts today's warm temperatures with a chance of rain or snow will give way to cloudy skies tonight and then sunny weather Monday and Tuesday.

Check www.steamboatpilot.com for updates.

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