One of the biggest snowstorms to hit Southwest Colorado this year caused a bit of chaos Friday, and it doesn’t appear winter is about to loosen its grip.
Heavy snowfall started Thursday night and didn’t let up until late Friday morning.
After a short break Friday afternoon, snowfall was expected to pick up early Saturday.
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory from midnight Friday to noon Saturday. During that time, elevations above 8,500 feet could receive 5 to 10 inches of snow.
The heaviest snow, the NWS said, is expected to fall from 4 to 10 a.m. Saturday. Travel, especially over mountain passes, is expected to become dangerous with blowing snow and reduced visibility.
Durango could receive 3 inches of new snow Saturday morning, the NWS said.
Most of the region’s mountain passes were affected by Thursday’s storm. Coal Bank, Molas and Lizard Head passes closed Thursday night and fully reopened Friday afternoon. Red Mountain Pass remained closed as of 5 p.m. Friday.
Lisa Schwantes, Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman, said it was unclear if Wolf Creek Pass would be closed Saturday for avalanche mitigation.
At the height of the storm, an estimated 25,000 La Plata Electric Association members lost power as heavy, wet snow brought down power lines and caused other complications with LPEA’s equipment.
As of 4:30 p.m. Friday, nearly 900 members remained without power.
It was a bit of a mess at Durango-La Plata County Airport.
Tony Vicari, airport director, said the runway was closed about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Then, around 11 p.m. Thursday, the airport lost power.
As a result, eight departures and seven arrivals were canceled Thursday into Friday. Vicari said the airport was able to return to standard operations Friday afternoon.
Representatives with Colorado State Patrol and Upper Pine River Fire Protection District said while roads were slick, causing slide-offs and minor crashes, there were no significant crashes with major injuries over the past 24 hours.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center issued an avalanche warning that will last until 8 a.m. Saturday. During that time, backcountry travel is not recommended.
The chance of snow will continue until at least through Monday, the NWS said, which could affect Presidents Day holiday commutes.