High winds, snow close Berthoud Pass; reopens Monday afternoon
December 31, 2007
Winds picked up steadily throughout the day Sunday. By the evening, gusts howled at 50 to 70 miles per hour, causing numerous road closures.
Berthoud Pass was closed Sunday night into Monday afternoon because of high winds and whiteout conditions. The pass reopened Monday afternoon around 1:30 p.m.
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation Web site, Berthoud Pass fully reopened by 3:15 p.m.
CDOT crews conducted avalanche mitigation activities on the pass overnight, but work was slow because of fierce winter conditions. Motorists were strongly advised not to travel to the high country, and many skiers and riders at Winter Park Resort ended up staying overnight.
Because of the holiday weekend, however, most people at the resort were already destination guests, said Communications Coordinator Jenn deBerge, so the closing of the pass mainly affected Front Range travelers.
“They’re enjoying having the slopes to themselves,” deBerge said. “We’re not hearing about people being stuck up here ” we’re hearing about people in Denver trying to come up.
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“(But) we know that CDOT’s No. 1 concern is the safety of those on their roads and highways, and we want our guests to come up when it’s safe. We’re hopeful they can come up this afternoon and enjoy tomorrow’s holiday.”
The strong winds Sunday caused upper-mountain lifts at the resort to be shut down around 1 p.m., and one chairlift, the Pioneer Express lift, had to be evacuated.
Winter Park Resort’s New Year’s event, Jingle Rails, was rescheduled to Jan. 1 because some of the athletes and judges were unable to make it into town.
Berthoud Pass wasn’t the only stretch of road effected. Westbound I-70 between Floyd Hill and Vail was closed overnight, as well as eastbound I-70 between Vail and Georgetown, and both directions of U.S. 6 on Loveland Pass.