Durango’s first major snowfall of the season caused relatively few crashes on local roads, but more snow could be on the way Sunday and Monday.
Jimmy Fowler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, received reports of up to 10 inches of snow east of Durango on Friday and some Durangoans recorded a little more than 7 inches in town.
The ridge of high pressure that typically keeps storms away from Southwest Colorado, broke down, allowing the storm to hit Durango, Fowler said.
The bulk of the storm came by Friday afternoon, and the chance of snow ended at midnight, he said. Friday night’s low was expected to sink to 3 degrees.
Saturday will be sunny, but cold, with a high around 30 degrees. Overnight Saturday temperatures are expected to dip to around zero.
Fowler said the weather service currently pegs the chance of snow in Durango on Sunday at 20 percent, increasing to 50 percent Sunday night. Monday has a 30 percent chance of snow.
However, Fowler cautioned it’s too soon to determine the storm’s exact track and how big of an impact it might bring to Durango.
Friday morning went surprisingly well on the roads around Durango.
Durango Police Department Cmdr. Jacob Dunlap said only four minor weather-related crashes were reported Friday morning.
DPD did briefly call an accident alert for Friday and asked people to collect names, addresses, phone numbers and insurance information for minor fender-benders caused by the snow.
Colorado State Patrol Capt. Adrian Driscoll said troopers were kept busy late Friday morning and early afternoon by several cars going off U.S. Highway 550 from New Mexico to Farmington Hill.
Someone left their car in the middle of the highway, which created a traffic snarl, Driscoll said.
“If you are stuck, get as far right on the road as possible,” he said. “If you don’t, it causes problems with snow removal and that just makes things worse for everybody else.”
La Plata County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Cory Lawson said county roads were snowpacked and slick.
Asked if it was a good day for people stay warm and dry at home, he said, “Absolutely.”
Chains or snow tires were required Friday evening on U.S. Highway 550 from mile marker 49 to mile marker 70, which includes Coal Bank and Molas passes. Earlier in the day, chains and snow tires had also been required on Red Mountain Pass.
Lisa Schwantes, regional spokeswoman with the Colorado Department of Transportation, said the storm has given highway crews an opportunity to put their latest piece of equipment, a tow plow, out in the field.
“We advise folks out on the highway to stay back from the plow. It essentially covers two lanes of highway, and there’s no way you’re going to get by it,” she said. “Just stay behind it, and let our plow driver do his job with this double plow. He’ll clear the way for you.”
Schwantes said highways were snowpacked or slick all across Southwest Colorado from Cortez to Wolf Creek Pass and from the New Mexico to Ouray.
CDOT has nine snowplows in Durango and La Plata County and 32 snowplows working across Southwest Colorado, Schwantes said.