Blizzard peters out, but frigid temps persist in Steamboat |

Blizzard peters out, but frigid temps persist in Steamboat

Zach Fridell

A state plow truck clears snow from U.S. Highway 40 on Wednesday morning. A storm, which was expected to bring heavy snow and blizzard conditions, stalled in southern Colorado before arriving in Routt County. The forecast is calling for cold but clear weather for the next few days.

— The blizzard that was expected to pound Steamboat Springs with snow and high winds mostly fizzled out Wednesday, but don't expect a warm reprieve for Thanksgiving today. The National Weather Service initially issued a blizzard warning beginning Tuesday night and continuing through noon Wednesday. The forecast warned of winds as fast as 70 mph.

But the warning was canceled early Wednesday, and the chairlifts at Steamboat Ski Area began ferrying up skiers and riders for the first day of the 2010-11 season.

"It didn't materialize up there in the Northwest Colorado mountains quite as strong as we expected," weather forecaster Jim Pringle said later Wednesday.

Today's forecast calls for sunny skies with a daytime high of 14 degrees. Tonight's low could dip to 2 degrees below zero, and even colder when factoring in the wind chill.

"After that, we are expecting some higher pressure to move into the area for a couple days anyway," Pringle said.

Temperatures are expected to reach the mid-20s Friday and the mid-30s by Saturday.

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The next storm is expected to roll in Sunday, with a chance of snow early next week.

Driving conditions in the region remain hazardous. The Colorado Department of Transportation put the chain law into effect for commercial vehicles on Rabbit Ears Pass early Wednesday morning, but Colorado State Patrol troopers reported only a couple of minor slide-off accidents with no injuries by Wednesday afternoon.

CDOT described the weather conditions on Rabbit Ears Pass as a mix of slush, ice and packed snow.

Across the county in Hay­den, Yampa Valley Regional Airport Manager Dave Ruppel said the full snow crew is on staff for the season and they quickly cleared the little accumulation they found Wednesday morning. He said the weather typically is more moderate at the airport than in Steamboat Springs and nothing in the forecast looked worrisome for the airport.

"We're not expecting anything that will be a showstopper," he said.

Ruppel said Thanksgiving will be as busy as possible for the airport, but with only two flights coming in per day, it won't be close to the crowds experienced later in the ski season.

"We're expecting full flights, but with only 75 or 80 people per flight, it's not as huge of a thing," he said.

CDOT: Mountain roads prove 'challenging'

The Denver Post

Denver — Deteriorating road conditions in the mountains are likely to cause snow removal problems for Colorado Department of Transportation crews, CDOT spokeswoman Stacey Stegman said Wednesday.

Stegman said temperatures dipping to minus 20 in the mountains, accompanied by high winds and 4 inches of snow, are causing concerns about increased avalanche danger along the Interstate 70 corridor on Vail Pass and into the Vail Valley.

The storm system is expected to cause avalanche problems near the Eisenhower Tunnel and on Berthoud and Loveland passes. She said CDOT crews are watching the buildup of snow slabs carefully and may do avalanche mitigation work on the passes and near Vail.

Stegman said the cold weather and wind will make snow removal difficult. The cold weather de-icers used by the CDOT crews become less effective in extreme cold, and sand placed on the roads often is covered by blowing snow or blown off the roadway, she said.

Winter driving tips

■ Always keep the top half of your gas tank full. It will give you better traction and a bigger margin of error if you get stuck and run the engine periodically to keep warm.

■ If stuck in a serious storm, do not leave your car. Run the engine periodically.

■ Carry blankets, water, a flashlight, a shovel, some nutrition bars or other food. The safety kit in the car should include sand for traction, jumper cables and an ice scraper and lock de-icer.

■ Have good tires.

■ In whiteout conditions, don’t drive faster than you can see ahead.

— Colorado Department of Transportation