Snow could be seen lining the slopes of Steamboat Ski Area when the sky finally cleared late Thursday afternoon. A winter storm, which was predicted to bring snow to the area, didn’t disappoint, bringing flurries downtown and heavier snow at higher elevations.
Steamboat Springs Mother Nature gave Routt County its first taste of winter Thursday afternoon when snow dusted the slopes of Mount Werner, blew through downtown Steamboat Springs and created treacherous driving conditions on Rabbit Ears Pass.
The strong Pacific storm was expected to deliver similar weather overnight as temperatures were forecast to drop into the upper 20s. Friday will likely be the coldest of the season, with a high of only 45 degrees.
“It looks like it cleared up, but there's more coming,” Jeff Colton, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction said after Thursday afternoon’s storm.
A weather-related, head-on car crash closed Rabbit Ears Pass for about two hours Thursday afternoon and sent three people to Yampa Valley Medical Center.
The crash occurred at about 1 p.m. just east of Dumont Lake on U.S. Highway 40.
Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott said a Toyota Camry was headed east on U.S. 40 when it lost control on the slushy, snow-covered roads and hit a westbound tanker truck head on.
The crash was in Grand County, but Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters and Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded along with State Patrol.
Firefighters had to extricate the driver of the Camry, who was conscious but pinned in the car.
Elliott identified the driver as Richard Romero, 40, and the passenger as Michelle Koenig, 45. Both are from Lakewood, Wash.
Elliott said Romero had serious injuries that were not considered life-threatening. Koenig had minor injuries. Romero was issued a summons for careless driving causing bodily injury. Neither drugs nor alcohol are believed to have contributed to the crash.
The driver of the tanker, Harold Carnal, of Silt, complained about abdominal pain and also was taken to YVMC, Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Kurtis Luster said.
U.S. 40 reopened about 2:30 p.m.
Snow was falling Thursday in the central Colorado mountains and at the Copper Mountain ski area, which started making snow for the season Wednesday night. The Loveland and Arapahoe Basin ski areas started their snow guns Thursday.
Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokesman Mike Lane said the ski area received a trace amount of snow Thursday, although as much as 3 inches was reported at the top of Storm Peak.
Despite temperatures forecast to dip below freezing for the next several nights, Lane said it’s too early to start making snow at Steamboat Ski Area. Lane said snowmaking operations typically start at the end of October or beginning of November as the weather becomes colder over a sustained period.
The National Weather Service received reports that snow fell at elevations as low as 5,000 feet in Vernal, Utah, on Thursday.
Colton expected a break between storms during the day Friday before another storm moves in late Friday and early Saturday morning. The system will bring gusty winds and possibly a couple inches of snow at elevations above 8,000 feet.
Overnight low temperatures are forecast to be in the upper 20s through Sunday night. Sunny skies are expected for Sunday and Monday with high temperatures in the 50s.
— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com