Steamboat Ski Area weathers high winds

Gusts that closed lifts Sunday morning not forecast to return today

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— The gusting winds that closed Steamboat Ski Area lifts Sunday morning are not forecast to return early this week.

The National Weather Ser­vice office in Grand Junction is forecasting sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s for today and Tuesday, with “calm” winds of less than 10 mph both days. The next chance of snow on Mount Werner, according to the forecast, is Thursday afternoon and evening.

Calm skies would be quite a change from what ski area crews saw Sunday, when winds of up to 70 mph closed the entire mountain until about 11:45 a.m., when crews were able to open the lower-mountain Preview and Christie III lifts. Winds abated enough to allow crews to open the gondola and Thunderhead Express lifts shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday. Most ski area lifts were opened shortly thereafter.

To compensate for the lost time on the slopes, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. extended hours of operation Sunday for about an hour longer than usual.

The gondola, Thunderhead Express and Christie Peak Express closed at 5 p.m. Sunday. The Burgess Creek lift closed at 4:30 p.m. Storm Peak Express and Sundown Express closed at 4 p.m.

“Fortunately, we’ve got daylight saving time to help us do that,” Jim Schneider, Ski Corp.’s vice president of skier services, said Sunday. “It’s been one of those days.”

Schneider declined to comment on whether additional compensation, such as a refund or voucher, would be offered to guests.

“We’re certainly dealing with those issues in our ticket office,” he said. He added that ski school lessons and other events were shuffled to accommodate guests.

Sunday morning’s gusts whipped the banners stretching over Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat and left little doubt about whether to close the gondola and lifts on Mount Werner.

“Looks like they’ve had at least 70 mile per hour winds at the top of T-head, and 55 miles per hour at the top of Christie Peak,” Ski Corp. Mike Lane said Sunday morning.

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