A tree stands out against a grey background Wednesday afternoon west of Steamboat Springs. Weather forecasts in the area called for strong winds and snow in the mountains starting Wednesday evening. The storm is expected to drop 8 to 16 inches of snow in mountain areas above 10,000 feet and 2 to 6 inches in downtown Steamboat by Friday morning.

Photo by John F. Russell

A tree stands out against a grey background Wednesday afternoon west of Steamboat Springs. Weather forecasts in the area called for strong winds and snow in the mountains starting Wednesday evening. The storm is expected to drop 8 to 16 inches of snow in mountain areas above 10,000 feet and 2 to 6 inches in downtown Steamboat by Friday morning.

Heavy snow expected to pound Northwest Colorado


Avalanche danger

Monday’s snowstorm increased the avalanche danger across Colorado, including in the mountains surrounding Steamboat Springs, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. In the forecast posted Wednesday, the CAIC reported danger in the Steamboat zone, which includes the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, is “considerable on north, northeast, east and southeast aspects near and above tree line. The danger is moderate on south, southwest, west and northwest aspects near and above tree line as well as aspects below tree line.”

With snowstorms back in the forecast, the CAIC forecasters reported avalanche danger in the Steamboat zone is expected to increase Thursday and Friday and “the Steamboat zone could go into an avalanche cycle by this weekend.” For more information about avalanche danger, and to view a forecast map, click here.

Keep up with the conditions

- For local weather conditions and recent coverage of Steamboat Springs weather, visit SteamboatToday.com/weather

- View webcams of Steamboat Springs at SteamboatToday.com/webcams

- For weather information from the National Weather Service, including storm warnings and advisories, visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/

- The Colorado Department of Transportation provides road conditions, closures and traffic cameras at www.cotrip.org. For travel information by phone, call 511 from anywhere in Colorado or dial 303-639-1111.

- Find information about avalanche danger and conditions at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website: www.avalanche.state.co.us.

- For flight information, visit www.flightview.com/ TravelTools/. By phone, call Delta Airlines at (800) 241-4141; United Airlines at (800) 864-8331; and American Airlines at (800) 433-7300

— A storm system that was forecast to arrive in Northwest Colorado on Wednesday night from the Oregon coast has the potential to dump 8 to 16 inches of snow on Mount Werner and the surrounding mountains before it starts to clear Friday morning, the National Weather Service in Grand Junction forecast Wednesday.

The forecast office issued a winter storm warning for Mount Werner, Rabbit Ears Pass and the surrounding mountains Wednesday afternoon that continues through 9 a.m. Friday.

Ellen Heffernan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Northwest Colorado would see periods of snow through Friday morning while an energetic and moist flow from the Pacific Northwest covers Steamboat Springs. Forecasters predicted Wednesday afternoon that the Yampa Valley and downtown Steamboat would receive 2 to 6 inches of snow by Friday.

“The heaviest chance for snow in the mountains looks like it’s going to be” Thursday night, Heffernan said, adding that the Park Range should see the brunt of the storm system over Colorado. “There is still some uncertainty as to how widespread the (snowfall) is going to be.”

The Park Range extends from the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area south to Mount Werner and Rabbit Ears Pass.

The Weather Service issued a wind advisory that called for sustained winds of 40 to 60 mph with gusts up to 80 mph above 10,000 feet Wednesday night. The wind was forecast to diminish Thursday.

Wind closed the Sunshine Express chairlift at Steamboat Ski Area at about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to the resort, and Heffernan said a wind monitoring station at the Storm Peak Observatory recorded sustained winds of 25 mph and gusts of up to 44 mph Tuesday night through Wednesday morning.

Heffernan said another storm system forecast to arrive Saturday afternoon could bring an additional 4 to 6 inches of snow to Northwest Colorado through Sunday night.

“We have this flow that’s setting up, and it looks like we’re going to have periods of snow through this coming week,” she said. “We’ve had such dry conditions here lately, but we’re now starting to see a pattern change and more winter.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com


Brent Boyer 5 years, 3 months ago

Housepoor: Mother Nature happened, I guess. Here's one of my favorite places to go to get some insight on what's happening with our weather. It's the "Forecast discussion" on Steamboat Springs' NOAA weather page. Some of the meteorological terms and jargon can be a bit confusing, but it's mostly easy to follow:


Still looking like strong possibility of snow tonight, and again this weekend. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.



SMRFF 5 years, 3 months ago

<p>opensnow.com, forecastsunlimited.com and snowforecast.com are great sites, as well, because they forecast specifically for the mountain as opposed to regional/zonal forecasting.


rhys jones 5 years, 3 months ago

Let the old curmudgeon remind y'all there is an inverse relationship between inches forecast and inches received. Somewhat akin to counting chickens. Don't jinx it!!

Thus qualified -- maybe we've got a real winter again!! Let's hope, eh? WOO HOO!!


Scott Wedel 5 years, 3 months ago

Well, our regional National Weather Service forecaster is based a couple hundred miles away and even when right with the previous storm was off by 16 hours in when it started. And that prediction was not days before, but about 8 hours before the predicted start of storm.


Phoebe Hackman 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm in Seattle. I'm sure you've heard what's going on here ... more snow than some people have ever seen, schools and businesses are closed, not enough snow plows and they don't know how to plow, anyway. Not enough experience driving in snow, so the roads are like driving in a pinball machine. People are bundled up like they're living in Antarctica. Me? I'm wearing sandals and a light sweater, lol!! I'm trying my best to send it your way, guys!!!


sledneck 5 years, 3 months ago

I have never seen a heavy snow forecast for more than 6 hours in advance yield heavy snow in Routt County. Not one single time.

I have often seen "snow shower" forcasts yield foot after foot for weeks.

My own theory is that strong storms, the ones that get the forecasters panties in a bunch, have the power to push over the mountains but the weak ones, that don't excite meterologists, get hung up and choke out everything they have.

This season i think they have mostly gone around us completely.

A good friend who has lived here for 80 years once told me that only newcommers and damn fools predict the weather in Routt County. He was exactly right.


rhys jones 5 years, 3 months ago

I think "8 to 16" killed this one. God saw that, and He just laughed. Any forecast over 2-4 is bound to fail.

Of the many words in Scott's referenced NOAA alert, only three were accurate: DID NOT MATERIALIZE. We'll swallow every lie the press feeds us. Or so the Routt County Data Mining people think -- along with NOAA, the Pilot, both political parties, ...



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