Residents of the Spring Meadows condo complex reported the roof blowing off at about 7 a.m. Thursday.

Photo by John F. Russell

Residents of the Spring Meadows condo complex reported the roof blowing off at about 7 a.m. Thursday.

Powerful gusts cause damage around Steamboat, shut down ski area


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Winds cause damage throughout Steamboat Springs

Strong, sustained winds tore roofs off buildings, toppled trees, took down street signs and closed Steamboat Ski Area on Thursday morning.

— High winds in Steamboat Springs on Thursday mangled roofs, broke door hinges, uprooted trees and shut down Steamboat Ski Area.

"All in all, considering the severity of the winds, we came out all right and no one was hurt," Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokesman Mike Lane wrote Thursday in an email giving the preliminary damage report for the ski area. The ski area opened at its usual time of 8:30 a.m. today.

There were no injuries reported anywhere in Steamboat, where damage was citywide. Perhaps the most costly damage was at Spring Meadows condominiums, where a large section of roof was torn off the multi-unit residential building. The wind knocked down power lines in various parts of the city, but only about 100 households were without electricity early in the day. Power had been restored through the area by Thursday afternoon, Yampa Valley Electric Association officials said.

Routt County Director of Emergency Management Bob Struble said he wasn't aware of any wind-related incidents or damage outside the city of Steamboat.

Lane said the winds at the ski area first picked up at about midnight, and at 6:10 a.m. Thursday a gauge on Tower 30 near Thunderhead registered a gust of 100 mph. One hour later, it measured the peak gust of 123 mph. At 9:30 a.m., the tower reported sustained winds of about 30 mph and gusts just over 70 mph, Lane said.

Steamboat Springs weather observer Art Judson reported wind gusts of 40 to 57 mph at locations across Steamboat Springs.

Ski area officials said the winds spread debris across numerous ski trails. Lane said the resort’s priority was to clear as many as 20 trees that fell on trails already open for the season. Ski Corp. crews then will clear an undetermined number of trees that fell on terrain that hasn’t yet opened to skiers and riders.

Lane said it appeared the strongest winds hit the areas of the Surprise, Flat Out and So What trails.

The canopy and outdoor bar cart at the Bear River Bar & Grill were damaged in addition to shingles on the ski school building and Thunderhead. The winds snapped the 4-by-4-inch posts of two large trail signs.

It is unknown how widespread the damage might be in the forest outside of the ski area.

“In terms of a big, widespread blowdown, we’re not aware of anything yet, but it’s early,” said

Kent Foster, recreation manager for the U.S. Forest Service’s Hahn’s Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District.

What caused the wind

National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Daniels said the wind storm was the result of strong mountain-top-level winds that trailed a cold front colliding with an existing layer of stable mountain-top-level air. The combination of the two created strong downslope winds.

Flatter areas of Northwest Colorado, including Craig and Meeker, experienced much milder winds Thursday.

“It was pretty strong winds across Northwest Colorado, but there were those favored areas,” Daniels said.

Daniels said the winds were reminiscent of conditions that often occur along the Front Range. The northeasterly flow of the storm system that brought significant snowfall to the Front Range on Thursday — and virtually no snow to Northwest Colorado — turned the tables on the Western Slope, creating strong winds there instead of on the other side of the Continental Divide.

Other hard-hit areas

Yampa Valley Regional Airport Assistant Manager Dean Smith said the airport just west of Hayden experienced gusts of 30 to 40 mph. Because the wind didn’t blow laterally across the runway, planes were able to land without issue.

"We had no significant impact at this airport at all due to weather," Smith said.

That was not the case on the west side of the city at Steamboat Springs Airport, where gusts of 60 mph were measured.

"I can't think of anyone that would have tried to fly an airplane in the wind we had today,” airport Manager Mel Baker said.

The winds awakened many Steamboat residents during the night, but the damage was not apparent until morning.

Steamboat Springs Police Sgt. Scott Middleton said residents at Spring Meadows reported the roof coming off at about 7 a.m. A portion of the roof blew into a neighboring condo complex, smashing several windows, Middleton said. Some of the roof came to rest on a pickup in the parking lot.

Middleton said officers were busy Thursday responding to other reports of downed trees and roof damage. Two trees toppled into Herbage condo units, and a tree blew down across Burgess Creek Road. Roof damage also was reported at the Villas at Walton Creek condo complex and the Terraces at Eagleridge, where windows also were broken.

A tree fell onto the deck of a condo unit at the Cascades at Eagleridge along Walton Creek Road, and another tree blocked a street in the neighborhood.

In Old Town Steamboat, resident Jim Tholson said he was looking out his window when a giant evergreen next to his Missouri Street home toppled into the street.

"I was sitting at my computer in my front room and checking the wind gusts on WeatherBug when I saw a gust of 60 mph, and then I watched the tree fall down in slow motion," he said.

Marlin Barad, the owner of the Missouri Street property where the tree fell, said losing the tree is like losing a friend.

"I'm just sick that tree is gone," she said. "It was there 30 years ago when we bought the house. That's like losing an old friend. We take care of our trees. We spray them. We feed them."

Weekend forecast

The winds should be much calmer Friday, with the National Weather Service calling for sunny skies and a high of 36 degrees. Winds will be about 5 mph from the southwest.

There’s a 40 percent chance of snow Friday night and Saturday, with a low of 16 degrees and a high Saturday of 26 degrees. Winds will be between 5 and 15 mph.

Strong winds in Steamboat on Dec. 1, 2011 (submitted by Shannon Lukens)


Scott Wedel 5 years, 4 months ago

"wind damage widespread"

Seriously? This is widespread wind damage? A roof here, a tree there? A traffic sign flapping in the wind?


Phoebe Hackman 5 years, 4 months ago

Scott, sorry there's not enough hard core news for you 'round these parts. Try this link: There's not much going on there, either. Although, articles about 140 mph winds in California, Cain needing to talk to his wife and the ACLU wanting to put abortion info on the iPhone were pretty interesting. And I'm not done yet. If I find anything earth-shattering, I'll let ya know. Personally, I'm enjoying the lull. I hope you're out taking a nice, brisk walk. :-)


exduffer 5 years, 4 months ago

Let me correct myself. From the mouth of an expert on hot air.


JusWondering 5 years, 4 months ago

exduffer: "From the mouth of an expert on wind damage". ROFLOL!!! Isn't Scott the expert on ALL things?


JJ Southard 5 years, 4 months ago

Scott can't help himself, it's a physical problem he has... When an article get's posted, he naturally blacks-out and begins spewing random opinions all over the comment sections. I wonder if he has a job, or sleeps, or even eats or drinks water....he lives and breathes this comment section. It IS Scott Wedel. He owns this piece. Don't mess with him. And God-Forsake the Pilot in his favor, if they ever were to do away with this comment section...for I predict Mr. Wedel would suffer catastrophic withdrawal...and probably die. LOL


Scott Wedel 5 years, 4 months ago

Well, paper and such spend so much time and effort promoting this area for tourists and a hyperventilating headline helps to end up with an AP news article starting off with:

Steamboat Springs and other parts of northwestern Colorado were hit hard today by strong winds

Hit hard like LA that has 300,000 people without power? No, hit hard with a roof blown off and some trees blown over. So how many tourists won't come here because there was widespread damage and it was hit hard?


Jill Montieth 5 years, 4 months ago

I think that our best story coming out of this is the information available. No one has to trudge up to the top of the mountain, stick a finger in the air, and guess how fast the wind is blowing, and then guess whether or not it is safe for anyone to be on the mountain. I personally was impressed with that part of the article, and with the people who watch over this information. This system protects the tourists up there, yes, but also think of our lift operators, ski patrol, and every other person that works on the mountain that are prevented from being put into situations they shouldn't be in due to high winds, That, my friend could potentially be "widespread" consequences. So Scott, Phoebe put it nicely, but instead of the brisk walk, I just would like to tell you to take a hike.


steamboatsprings 5 years, 4 months ago

Scott Wedel does know everything, hasn't he told you yet?


Scott Wedel 5 years, 4 months ago

Well, look at that! The newspaper changed the headline and removed "wind damage widespread" to: Powerful gusts cause damage around Steamboat, shut down ski area

So it seems the newspaper reporter and editor largely agreed with me that the first article over-hyped the damage caused by the wind.


rhys jones 5 years, 4 months ago

yvb -- I think the birds are in Utah now. Hungry and cold; that's a Red state. :-)


Nicole Miller 5 years, 4 months ago

Scott, I don't agree with you. I think the damage was widespread. I changed the headline to match what was printed on the front of today's paper to make the story easier to find for readers.

Nicole Miller Assistant editor


Nicole Miller 5 years, 4 months ago

yampavalleyboy, my name is Nicole Miller. I'm the assistant editor.

Nicole Inglis is our entertainment reporter, and I think she and many of our readers would disagree with you that her beat is unimportant.

Nicole Miller Assistant editor


Jill Montieth 5 years, 4 months ago

The "bam" "you've been served" just came right back atcha, yvb. The "dig" as you call it was out of line, but you barely apologize. Uncalled for comments to the editor probably do come with the territory, but YOUR apology should be going out to Nicole Inglis.She may not be writing"hard news", however, observance of your "by the way" comment shows you're really not able to absorb any pertinent information anyway, i.e. the last name of the assistant editor. DUH and Bam


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