Snow, wind prompt ‘winter storm watch’ for Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Snow, wind prompt ‘winter storm watch’ for Steamboat







— A blast of snow that rolled into Northwest Colorado Tuesday favored West Routt and Moffat County, but Steamboat's turn is coming.

The National Weather Service has posted a winter storm watch for Steamboat Springs through Thursday night, and Steamboat Springs meteorologist Mike Weissbluth expects there will be 1 to 2 feet of snow on the Thursday morning ski report.

The holiday storm on Monday caused the cancellation of a flight from Chicago destined for Yampa Valley Regional Airport, but others operated even if they sometimes arrived 20 to 30 minutes behind schedule.

A Denver United flight was canceled due to weather, and the same Chicago flight was diverted to Denver again on Tuesday. Airport Director Kevin Booth said there was a period Tuesday morning when low visibility and ceilings could have impacted some flights, but the runway was open all day. By 4 p.m., the skies over the airport were clear, he said.

On Monday, it was more wintry at the airport 22 miles west of Steamboat Springs than it was at Steamboat Ski Area where 7 inches of new snow fell in 24 hours at mid-mountain. The staff at Hayden Town Hall estimated unofficially that 10 to 12 inches of snow had fallen there as Tuesday.

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Snow totals were heavier further west, in Craig, where a weather station, just southwest of town operated by an amateur weather observer with the Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS), reported 11.4 inches of snow had fallen as of 7 a.m. Tuesday.

The snow was also heavier in North Routt. The Lost Dog Snotel, a remote snow-reporting site at 9,320 feet elevation on the edge of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area, reported 19 inches of new snow in 24 hours.

Weissbluth, who manages SnowAlarm.com, said the cold front, which will dominate Steamboat's weather for the next few days, will cause moderate to heavy snowfalls to pass through the area through at least early Thursday. He expects the ski area will have accumulated 5 to 10 inches of snow at mid-mountain in time for the Wednesday morning ski report.

"I now expect 6 to 12 inches during the day Wednesday along with another 6 to 12 inches overnight, leading to a Thursday morning report of 1 to 2 feet," Weissbluth said at midday Tuesday.

The winter storm is expected to be accompanied by strong wind gusts at higher elevations. Joel Gratz of OpenSnow.com was forecasting gusts of 30 to 40 miles per hour on Tuesday night, with wind speeds increasing to 40 to 50 mph during the day Wednesday and even stronger winds of 50 to 60 mph that night.

Snow and rain in December

Kate Gmeiner, who participates in CoCoRaHS at her weather station .7 miles southeast of downtown Steamboat, reported that December 2016 produced 20 days of measurable snow with another four days yielding a trace of snow.

The most unusual statistic generated during the last month of 2016 came Dec. 16 and 17 when a significant amount of rain fell on the valley floor (it was snow at higher elevations). Gmeiner recorded .44 inches of rain on Dec. 16 followed by .49 inches of rain on Dec. 17 with another .5 inches of precipitation in the form of snow that same day.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1