Snow blankets Steamboat, creates treacherous driving conditions | SteamboatToday.com

Snow blankets Steamboat, creates treacherous driving conditions

A fresh layer of snow covers the rocks at Fish Creek Falls near Steamboat Springs on Sunday.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With opening day at Steamboat Ski Area two and a half weeks away, it is starting to look like winter.

A storm rolled into the Steamboat Springs area Saturday night with initial strong winds and rain.

By the middle of the afternoon Sunday, the Champagne Powder snow cam at the top of the ski area was showing snow accumulations of about seven inches.

The most recent storm hit the northern Colorado mountains and the ski area the hardest.

Periods of snow are expected through Wednesday.

Joel Gratz, who runs opensnow.com, wrote that a second round of heavy snow will hit Colorado midday Monday.

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"This time, I think most mountains will see decent accumulations, not just limited to the northern mountains," Gratz wrote. "In fact, some of the most recent models show the deepest snow falling in the southern mountains."

While the most recent storm created a picturesque landscape at Fish Creek Falls in Steamboat, it resulted in treacherous driving conditions on U.S. Highway 40 over Rabbit Ears Pass.

A chain law was enacted for the stretch of road and was not lifted until Sunday afternoon.

Temperatures were around freezing, which created a slick layer of slush and ice.

Sgt. Scott Elliott said people were driving too fast for conditions, and there was a head-on crash near mile marker 155 in Jackson County on a sharp curve. Three people were taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center with minor injuries.

"Luckily, everyone is OK," Elliott said.

There were stuck semis, and several cars slid off the road. At mile marker 144, a Jeep went off the road and hit some trees. The vehicle suffered minor damage.

While conditions improved Sunday afternoon with mostly wet pavement on U.S. 40, troopers were preparing for more winter weather and encouraging drivers to slow down.

"They're still driving way too fast for the road conditions," Elliott said.

Drier weather is expected to settle in the Yampa Valley on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before another storm approaches Saturday.

"Unfortunately, the heaviest precipitation during this time will stay to our west and northwest," Gratz wrote.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.

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