Snowstorm snarls I-70 traffic for most of Sunday
April 4, 2011
A storm traversing Colorado had the mountain areas of Interstate 70 closed for several hours on Sunday.
Closures from Silverthorne to Georgetown – including Loveland Pass – and over Vail Pass occurred around noon Sunday. A subsequent closure westbound from Floyd Hill began at 1:30 p.m. to prevent traffic buildup in Georgetown, Colorado state trooper Heather Cobler said. The tunnel area didn’t reopen until about 5 p.m. Vail Pass opened earlier.
Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman Bob Wilson said several accidents – none very serious, Cobler said – on Sunday morning meant briefly closing the interstate’s eastbound lanes.
That trend continued into the afternoon, he said, with multiple fender-benders and vehicles sliding off the road that needed to be cleaned up before the highway reopened. However, Wilson said the extended afternoon closure was largely weather-related.
“It’s preventative in nature,” Wilson said, citing poor visibility due to heavy snow, blowing snow and drifting as primary reasons for the closure. The roads were also extremely slick – trucks were jackknifing as they tried to climb the hill between Silverthorne and Frisco after the road reopened.
A winter advisory that kicked in Sunday morning expired at midnight, said Kyle Fredin, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder.
He said the weather service expected snow accumulations of 7-12 inches in Summit County’s towns and mountains throughout the day Sunday, with weather breaking this morning. Similar snow accumulations are expected in Eagle County and in mountain areas east of Summit County.
As of noon Sunday, about 8 inches had fallen mid-mountain at Breckenridge Ski Resort, Fredin said.
Today and Tuesday’s weather break is short, ending with highs in the 40s or 50s on Tuesday before another disturbance moves in Wednesday.
No accumulation is expected in the subsequent system, although the weather service waits until the system is closer before making such forecasts.
Avalanche danger in northerly areas such as Summit, Eagle and Grand counties is high. In southerly locations such as Lake County, the danger is considerable, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.