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  • Temps the lowest in 50 years

    Chill to hang around for next few days

    The morning sun reflects rainbow colors off ice crystals in the air as a pedestrian crosses 10th Street along East Second Avenue on Tuesday morning in record cold temperatures. Enlarge photo

    SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

    The morning sun reflects rainbow colors off ice crystals in the air as a pedestrian crosses 10th Street along East Second Avenue on Tuesday morning in record cold temperatures.

    It was cold Tuesday – record-breaking cold.

    The temperature at Durango-La Plata County Airport bottomed out at minus 21 degrees, 5 degrees colder than the previous record for the day set in 1963.

    Briggen Wrinkle, who records Durango temperatures for the National Weather Service, said the low in the city was minus 11.

    Few plumbers were answering the telephone Tuesday because they were answering calls from homeowners and businesses with frozen or cracked water pipes and seized-up water heaters or boilers.

    “It’s bad everywhere,” said Lee Bell at Bell’s Heating Cooling & Plumbing. “I have 10, no, 11 calls for service.”

    There has been a run on heat tape used to insulate pipes, said Glenn Haynie at Kroeger’s Ace Hardware.

    “It’s a clear tape that gives protection,” Haynie said. “It will keep water flowing up to minus 40 degrees.”

    Planes scheduled for early takeoff required de-icing at Durango-La Plata County Airport, said Don Brockus, deputy director of aviation. Afternoon flights didn’t have to do the procedure.

    “The runway and taxiway have been usable through the recent series of storms,” Brockus said. “We’re working hard, though, to keep parking lots, sidewalks and streets safe for pedestrians.

    “It’s been a dandy (the cold streak),” Brockus said. “I don’t live in Gunnison or Alamosa because these temperatures are routine there.”

    Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction said the cold snap will continue through the weekend although a slight warming trend is expected.

    The high temperature today will be around 24, with an overnight low of minus 3.

    Highs Thursday through Sunday will be 27, 31, 30 and 31, with lows around minus 4, minus 3, minus 4 and zero.

    The high on Martin Luther King Day on Monday will be around 31.

    A hazardous weather outlook is in effect for western Colorado and eastern Utah.

    Light snow, with accumulation of up to 2 inches, was expected over the northern mountains. Very cold temperatures and local wind chill could drop the thermometer to minus 30 in some lower valleys.

    The extreme cold has prevented the breakup of ice on certain stretches of U.S. Highway 550 over Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain passes, Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said.

    “The passes are in good shape with a lot of dry pavement,” Shanks said. “The chain law has been dropped, but there are those icy places.”

    The same condition exist on Wolf Creek Pass, she said.

    Travel information and road conditions are available by dialing 511 or at www.cotrip.org.

    daler@durangoherald.com

    Jim LaBonte, with the Building Department of La Plata County, prepares to jump-start a county truck with a dead battery from the cold temperatures overnight. Enlarge photo

    SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

    Jim LaBonte, with the Building Department of La Plata County, prepares to jump-start a county truck with a dead battery from the cold temperatures overnight.

    SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald
Al Librande of Ready Rooter inspects leaking pipes in a client’s home on East Third Avenue on Tuesday morning. Record cold temperatures overnight caused pipes to freeze, car batteries to fail and people to bundle up for the morning commute in the area. Enlarge photo

    SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald Al Librande of Ready Rooter inspects leaking pipes in a client’s home on East Third Avenue on Tuesday morning. Record cold temperatures overnight caused pipes to freeze, car batteries to fail and people to bundle up for the morning commute in the area.

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