The storm that powered into Southwest Colorado on Wednesday dropped heavy snowfall in higher elevations, but scattered little precipitation around Durango and valley areas.
A winter weather advisory remains in effect until 9 a.m. today. The chances of snow today in Durango aren’t great, but low temperatures and icy highways may make travel risky.
Travel was disrupted Wednesday at Durango-La Plata County Airport. Kip Turner, director of aviation, said two American Airlines flights each way between Durango and Dallas were canceled. Four United Airways flights between Durango and Denver also were canceled, he said.
“It was one of those days,” Turner said.
The Colorado Department of Transportation today is scheduled to do avalanche control on major passes, which will entail closures of varying lengths.
U.S. Highway 160 will be closed west of Wolf Creek Pass starting at 7 a.m. today for up to three hours. The east side of the pass is not affected.
Red Mountain Pass on U.S. Highway 550 north of Silverton will be closed from 6:30 a.m. to at least 1 p.m. today. Coal Bank and Molas passes to the south will see sporadic closures as needed to clear avalanche danger.
The surest way to stay abreast of conditions on the state’s highways is to visit www.cotrip.org, CDOT spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said.
“If it doesn’t say a highway is closed, it’s open,” said Shanks, who is based in Durango.
Chains are required for commercial vehicles on all mountain passes, Shanks said.
The high temperature today in Durango is expected to be around 24 and the low tonight, 4 below zero. Friday doesn’t look much warmer, with a high of 23 and an overnight low of 7 degrees.
Friday should show clear skies, but a new storm is expected Saturday, only to exit Sunday, Travis Booth, a National Weather Service forecaster, said Wednesday. The storm could drop 4 to 8 inches of snow in Southwest Colorado.
“It will dry out but remain chilly,” Booth said. “The next seven days will be high temperatures in the mid-20s and lows in the single digits.”
Mountain passes were clear as of 5 p.m. Wednesday as CDOT crews were put on 24-hour alert, Shanks said. At least half of all plow crews were on duty at any given time, she said.
The storm, which came from the north, got hung up over Interstate 70, but it arrived midmorning.
“Durango will be on the low end of snowfall, maybe 2 inches,” Matt Aleksa said Wednesday morning.
The storm dumped several inches of snow in Denver, and parts of Colorado’s mountains were expected to get up to 3 feet. Heavy overnight snow canceled a men’s World Cup downhill training Wednesday in Beaver Creek because the skiers need a clean, slick surface to practice on.
Wolf Creek Pass was closed at 8:15 a.m. Wednesday because of adverse conditions and near-zero visibility but reopened at 1 p.m.
Winds reached more than 100 mph on Red Mountain Pass, Shanks said.
Visibility on Molas and Coal Bank passes also was next to zero, she said.
Travel will continue to be hazardous today on mountain passes, Shanks said.
“Motorists have to be careful because they’re going to get nowhere fast,” Shanks said, “Our crews will spread sand to help, but don’t expect miracles.”