Snows of winters past


The weekend storm that gripped the Yampa Valley for more than 24 hours may have seemed like a large amount of snow to the untrained eye.

To the valley's longtime residents, it's just winter as usual.

"This is not anything big," longtime resident Les Hutton said. "We had bad winters back in the 1930s with a lot of snow. The difference is that back then there was no equipment to plow the roads out."

The weekend storm measured at 10.5 inches of snowfall at Trapper Mine. Hutton remembered more snow from a storm in the 1980s, when parking lots had snow piled up higher than a person could see over.

He also remembers temperature dropping to 40 below zero and just hanging there for days.

"When it's really cold you see car hoods up all over town," he said. "We've had some really cold winters here in Craig."

Dan White, a foreman with Craig's Road and Bridge Department, said the snowfall this year has kept snowplow crews busy.

"There's more snow this winter than the last five years," he said. "We still get the streets open by 10 or 11 a.m."

White has been working for the city for 30 years, and he has seen garbage trucks freeze up when the temperature is at 40 degrees below zero.

On Monday morning, Craig's official temperature-- reported to the National Weather Service --was 24 degrees below zero, cold enough to cause problems around town.

At least one city plow truck had the sanding unit freeze up, and it had to be brought into the garage to thaw.

"This is more like a regular winter," White said. "For 10 years we've been in a drought. It even rained in January a couple of years ago."

White recalled the 1984 blizzard, saying it made the past few winters seem "not so bad."

Al Shepherd, a Craig resident for 75 years, also remembered the blizzard of 1984.

When his father started the family business in 1924, everyone in town stored their automobiles all winter in the city garage or in Mather's basement.

"Dad ran his Model T one year all winter. He would drain the radiator and fill it with water heated on the stove," Shepherd said. "He was the first one to run a vehicle all winter in Craig."

He said it's beginning to look like a normal winter around the valley after the weekend storm.

"This is a normal winter for this area. The snow is up to a doe's belly," Shepherd said.

Craig weather recorder Graham Roberts said the winter of 2005-2006 produced 65 inches of snowfall, and this winter still has inches go before reaching that mark.

"We are currently at 40.7 inches of snow for the winter of 2006-2007," he said. "This year we're ahead of the curve, but the biggest snowstorms usually come in the spring."

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