Storm system brings much-needed snow to valley; more expected next few days

— Whether it was possible to have too much of a good thing this weekend depended largely on whether you were trying to get somewhere or content to sit tight and watch the snow fall.

A major storm system moved through Routt County over the weekend, causing major delays at Yampa Valley Regional Airport and a slew of minor traffic accidents in the Steamboat Springs area but created one of the season's best powder days at Steamboat Ski Area.

Snowpacked, icy roads led to at least one noninjury rollover accident and a number of cars sliding off roads or into each other Saturday.

No serious injury accidents had been reported as of Saturday afternoon.

Although the local airport never closed and runways remained in good condition despite the snow that began falling early Friday morning, poor visibility and a low ceiling of cloud cover prevented two commercial jets from landing. An American Airlines flight from Dallas was diverted to Denver and a Continental Airlines flight returned to Houston Friday evening, YVRA firefighter Ken Farmer said.

The planes were able to land Saturday morning.

However, visibility and wind direction combined Saturday to make for another difficult day at the airport. At about 3 p.m. Saturday, two Air Wisconsin flights from Denver International Airport had been canceled, and three commercial flights were in a holding pattern over Hayden, waiting for a shift in wind or a break in the weather to land.

"The runways have been perfectly clear all day; they aren't the problem. Right now, we have the wrong winds, the wrong ways," Farmer said Saturday afternoon. "We've had several planes that were holding to go back to Denver to refuel, and now they are back and still holding."

A Continental flight from Houston and a Northwest Airlines flight from Minneapolis, both scheduled to land in the noon hour, were among those that returned to Denver to refuel, only to fly west into a holding pattern over YVRA again. The weather also prevented planes that had landed in Hayden earlier from flying out.

"People come here for the snow, but boy are they ticked off when they can't get back to work," Farmer said.

The storm had dumped 14 inches of snow at the top of Steamboat Ski Area by 5 a.m. Saturday, and the National Weather Service predicted the storm would produce up to 12 more inches of snow locally before losing intensity after midnight Sunday.

More heavy snowstorms are expected to move into the area on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for Saturday night.

And although the fresh powder was a skier's dream, the combination of heavy snow and strong winds has created avalanche danger on Rabbit Ears Pass, the weather service said.

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