Today is the first day of spring, but Monday’s winter blast offered little hint of that.
Instead, drivers were slipping and sliding on icy, snowpacked roads reminiscent of the depth of winter.
Today, however, temperatures are expected to be in the mid-40s and in the 50s Wednesday and Thursday.
By Friday, spring weather will return with a forecast high of around 60 degrees through the weekend, Jim Pringle, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said.
Winter’s last hurrah generated about 30 traffic incidents, all without serious injury, Doug Wiersma, Colorado State Patrol spokesman, said.
“During the accident-alert status, we assume that there were numerous slide-offs that were not reported – mostly fender benders from the very icy roads,” Wiersma said.
The “accident alert status,” during which accidents only involving serious factors such as injuries and alcohol are reported, was in effect from 8:04 to 10:40 a.m. in La Plata County, he said.
Only one reported crash had a “complaint of injury,” Wiersma said. “No one was transported to the hospital, and there were no serious injuries or fatalities.”
At Fort Lewis College, police briefly closed the “front hill,” East Eighth Avenue winding up to the college, around 9:15 a.m. Monday after an accident, college spokesman Mitch Davis said.
A driver in a pickup traveling southbound down the hill lost control and collided with a pickup truck traveling northbound, Davis said.
One of the drivers was a student, the other “is believed to be an employee,” Davis said. “Neither driver involved in the collision was injured.”
Along the highways, snowplow crews began 12-hour shifts at 5 a.m. Monday treating roads with “a sand-and-salt mixture for traction,” Levi Lloyd, the street superintendent for the city of Durango, said.
All passes along state highways remained open throughout the storm, Nancy Shanks, a Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman, said.
Ski areas and other local snow fanatics were celebrating the late-season snow.
“The storm is perfect timing for a spring break vacation.” Anne Klein, spokeswoman for the Durango Area Tourism Office, said. Having snow added to the base this time of year, “gives a great reason for people to come skiing.”
At 2 p.m. Monday, Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort reported 9 inches of snow from the storm, bringing the base depth to around 70 inches.
“Purgatory has excellent spring skiing,” Kim Oyler, director of communications for DMR, said.
DMR will end its regular ski season April 1 and, “as weather permits,” will be open Friday-Sunday through April, Oyler said.
The recent storm “freshened” up the spring conditions just in time for the area’s final “Locals Day” on Sunday, Oyler said.
Wolf Creek Ski Area reported 12 inches of snow, with a base depth of 94-100 inches.
“This snow is great for current conditions, but we don’t know how long before it will melt or whether or not more will be coming,” Rosanne Pitcher, vice president of marketing and sales for Wolf Creek Ski Area, said.
Wolf Creek, will remain open seven days a week through April 8.
“If snow continues to fall, we will continue to keep the mountain open,” Pitcher said.
Silverton Mountain reported 14 inches adding to the total base of 53-80 inches.
Herald intern Jamie Wanzek, a junior at Animas High School, contributed to this report. firstname.lastname@example.org