April Storm Pummels the Rockies

Apr 17th @ 10:00 am in News by Scott Staley

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ROAD CONDITION/CLOSURE INFORMATION: To find the conditions and closures, log onto our traveler information site at www.cotrip.org or call 511 from anywhere in the state. Better yet, sign up to receive wireless text alerts and/or e-mails about road conditions on our web site (see the green phone icon in the upper right-hand corner).

WESTERN COLORADO – The Chinese proverb seems right on target this week, as no man is recognizing spring in Colorado’s high country right now. Winds continue to blow and snow continues to fall, even as milder temperatures tend to prevail in the state’s lowlands. Right now, many of the western Colorado passes are dry—including Wolf Creek Pass and the US 550 passes—and some are currently just wet—like SH 133 over McClure Pass. But things are about to change.

According to forecasters with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), this spring storm is expected to continue through Wednesday night before easing up Thursday. Motorists are strongly urged to check conditions and highway closures before heading out on mountain travel and have adequate snow tires.

Colorado Department of Transportation crews have been out on winter storm shifts non-stop where the snow is present. They’ve noted more wet roads today than yesterday and warn motorists of icy conditions overnight and into the morning.

The CAIC predicts a cool, dry northwest flow will follow for the remainder of the work week; and cool, unsettled spring weather is possible for the weekend.

Here is a look at the forecasted accumulations on the state’s western passes:

 

Source:   Colorado Avalanche Information Center

McClure Pass Forecast (SH 133)
Fields Tuesday Night Wednesday Wednesday Night
Temperature (°F) 15 to 20 24 to 29 0 to 5
Wind Speed (mph) 12 to 22 10 to 20 5 to 15
Wind Direction SSW WSW NNW
Sky Cover Mostly Cloudy Overcast Decreasing
Snow (in) 2 to 5 3 to 6 2 to 4
 

Grand Mesa Forecast (SH 65)
Fields Tuesday Night Wednesday Wednesday Night
Temperature (°F) 15 to 20 20 to 25 5 to 10
Wind Speed (mph) 10 to 20 7 to 17 5 to 15
Wind Direction SSW WSW N
Sky Cover Mostly Cloudy Overcast Decreasing
Snow (in) 1 to 3 2 to 5 Trace to 2
 

Monarch Pass Forecast (US 50)
Fields Tuesday Night Wednesday Wednesday Night
Temperature (°F) 15 to 20 20 to 25 0 to 5
Wind Speed (mph) 15 to 25 15 to 25 10 to 20
Wind Direction SW WSW N
Sky Cover Mostly Cloudy Overcast Overcast
Snow (in) 0 to 2 2 to 4 1 to 3
 

Wolf Creek Pass Forecast (US 160)
Fields Tuesday Night Wednesday Wednesday Night
Temperature (°F) 15 to 20 23 to 28 5 to 10
Wind Speed (mph) 18 to 28 15 to 25 N
Wind Direction SW WSW 5 to 15
Sky Cover Mostly Cloudy Overcast Increasing
Snow (in) 0 to 2 3 to 5 0 to 2
 

US 550 Forecast (Coal Bank, Molas & Red Mountain passes)
Fields Tuesday Night Wednesday Wednesday Night
Temperature (°F) 13 to 18 20 to 25 0 to 5
Wind Speed (mph) 20 to 30 10 to 20 5 to 15
Wind Direction SSW WSW NNW
Sky Cover Mostly Cloudy Overcast Decreasing
Snow (in) 2 to 4 5 to 8 1 to 3
       

 

Lizard Head Pass Forecast (SH 145)
Weather Forecast Monday Night Tuesday Tuesday Night
Temperature (°F) 22 to 27 40 to 45 15 to 20
Wind Speed (mph) 20 to 30 20 to 30 15 to 25
Wind Direction SSW SSW SSW
Sky Cover Mostly Cloudy Increasing Mostly Cloudy
Snow (in) 0 to 1 0 to 1 0 to 2

 

Here’s a summary of CDOT maintenance patrols in western Colorado: 

Region 5, Section 3, DURANGO

Durango Maintenance Area

The Durango Maintenance Area has 6 patrols, located in: Pagosa Springs, Bayfield, Ignacio, Durango, Hesperus and Rockwood. The Durango Maintenance Area has 43 maintenance workers and 35 pieces of snow removal and avalanche equipment (including 22 snowplows, 12 of which are equipped with MDSS, or the in-cab computerized Maintenance Decision Support System). Eleven trucks are equipped with liquid deicer applicator tanks. Other plow trucks carry sand/salt and for providing traction. Durango maintenance crews take care of 510.36 lane-miles. During last winter, Durango maintenance crews plowed 163,001 total lane-miles.   

Cortez Maintenance Area

The Cortez Maintenance Area includes patrols in: Dove Creek, Cortez, Mancos, Dolores, Rico and Telluride. The Cortez Area has 31 maintenance workers and 37 pieces of snow removal and avalanche equipment (including 23 snowplows, 6 of which are equipped with MDSS). Cortez maintenance crews take care of 650.8 lane-miles.

Ridgway Maintenance Area

The Ridgway Maintenance Area includes patrols in:  Cascade, Silverton, Ouray, Ridgway, Norwood, Nucla and Paradox. The Area has 33 maintenance workers and 35 pieces of snow and avalanche removal equipment (including 19 snowplows, 2 of which are equipped with MDSS). One truck is equipped with a liquid deicer applicator tank. Other plow trucks carry sand/salt for providing traction. Ridgway maintenance crews take care of 588.84 lane-miles.

GRAND JUNCTION MAINTENANCE SECTION: 

Grand Junction Area

Patrols located in:  Grand Junction, Whitewater, Cedaredge, Gateway, Loma, Mesa, DeBeque, Parachute, Grand Junction and the Fruita Rest Area. There are 43 maintenance workers, 57 pieces of equipment (including 28 snowplows, 6 of which are equipped with *MDSS) and 1,518.53 total lane miles (combined length of all highways’ individual lanes).

Glenwood Springs Area

Patrols located in:  Rifle, two in Glenwood Springs (one for Glenwood and one for the Canyon), El Jebel, Carbondale, plus Rest Area patrols located at No Name, which cover rest areas at Rifle, West Glenwood, No Name, and Grizzly Creek. There are 41 maintenance workers, 40 pieces of equipment (including 18 snowplows, 16 of which are equipped with *MDSS), and 703.29 total lane miles (combined length of all highways’ individual lanes). 

Montrose Area

Patrols located in: Slumgullion and Spring Creek passes, Gunnison Area, Crested Butte, Blue Mesa, Cerro Summit, Lower Montrose Area, Delta Area, Crawford/Black Mesa and Paonia. There are 43 maintenance workers, 51 pieces of equipment (including 26 snowplows, 1 of which is equipped with *MDSS), and 1,048.52 total lane miles.