Wednesday's thunderstorm in Steamboat Springs uprooted at least 20 cottonwood trees on the Steamboat Golf Club course. The course is closed until the trees are removed.

Photo by Scott Franz

Wednesday's thunderstorm in Steamboat Springs uprooted at least 20 cottonwood trees on the Steamboat Golf Club course. The course is closed until the trees are removed.

Downed trees force golf course closure

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Jane Garrison, wife of Steamboat Golf Club general manager Wayne Garrison, observes the damage to the course Thursday from a hole left from an uprooted cottonwood tree. High winds from Wednesday's thunderstorm in Steamboat Springs uprooted at least 20 trees on the course.

— At the height of Wednesday night’s thunderstorm that rolled through Steamboat Springs, Jane Garrison, who was driving to Steamboat from Denver, received a phone call from her husband.

“You’re not going to believe the golf course,” he told her.

Wayne Garrison, general manager of the Steamboat Golf Club, was surveying and cleaning up the damage to his golf course Thursday. He estimates that 20 cottonwood trees, some as tall as 90 feet, were blown over by the storm.

“We got rain, we got hail, and we got strong winds,” he said. “It was very scary. It came on pretty fast and it didn’t last long.”

Garrison has enlisted the help of Becker Tree Service to remove the fallen trees that line the fairways of the course. The course was closed during the storm and will remain closed until the trees have been removed. Andy Keyek, superintendent of the course, hopes that can happen by Saturday.

“We had two people in lightning shelters last night,” he said. “But we’re very lucky nobody got hurt.”

Kitchen manager Eric Liss finished course’s seventh hole Wednesday night before taking cover in a lightning shelter.

“It was like being in the middle of a tornado,” he said. “The building was shaking and creaking, and we were standing in the strongest corner as we heard the snapping and popping of trees around us.”

Matt Aleksa, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said areas one mile north of Steamboat Springs received .79 inches of rain from 8 to 8:30 p.m. and areas in town received half an inch during that time period. The highest recorded wind gusts were estimated to be 30 to 40 mph in town. Aleksa said the gusts could have intensified a mile north of Steamboat to about 50 mph, a speed he says is capable of blowing over trees.

“The storm developed over near Craig and intensified as it neared Steamboat,” he said.

Aleksa said the storm produced no funnel clouds or tornadoes.

Other downed trees have been reported throughout Steamboat as a result of the storm. The Steamboat Pilot & Today will update this story online and in Friday’s print edition.

If you know about any storm-related damage, e-mail share@steamboatpilot.com or call reporter Scott Franz at 871-4210.

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