“This storm arrived on Wednesday evening and will be departing the area Friday evening,” said Paul Frisbie, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Grand Junction. “When you get a strong, cold system like this in the spring, they typically produce good amounts of snow. It was a real strong trough that moved across the region. Some areas have seen nearly two feet of snow total.”
As of Friday morning, no official word of snow accumulation totals were released from the Telluride Ski Area but there have been reports of snow totals of up to two feet on the ski area, which has been closed since Sunday. One Ophir resident said he had received more than two and a half feet of snow in his yard. The streets of Telluride received almost 18 inches of snow.
For officials at the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, the storm brought slushy and icy road conditions but didn¹t cause very many serious traffic problems.
“Thing s weren’t too terribly bad,” said Sergeant Mike Westcott. “We have had a number of traffic issues and we had some vehicles stuck. There was an injury accident this morning near Sawpit. Things haven’t been too bad though. Part of that reason is the traffic is greatly reduced now that we are in the off-season.”
Currently, Red Mountain Pass (U.S. Highway 550 from Ouray to Silverton), which received over 36 inches of snow, is the only road closed (for avalanche control) in the region. Near whiteout conditions and treacherous roads caused a head-on accident Thursday morning on Hwy. 550 nine miles north of Ridgway in Ouray County. Three people were transported to the hospital; a fourth, an 8 1/2 month pregnant female from Placerville who was the driver of one of the vehicles, went into labor as a result of the accident.
Colorado Department of Transportation public relations representative Nancy Shanks said that roads across the state have been a mess but few have been closed.
“Right now, it looks like Lizard Head Pass is snowy and icy but there are no restrictions,” she said at noon Friday. “Our crews have been doing a decent job of staying ahead of it.” She went on to say that the I-70 corridor from Vail to the Eisenhower Tunnel is wet with slushy conditions and surprisingly Colorado Hwy. 65 that goes over Grand Mesa (near Cedaredge) has been closed for avalanche control as well.
“We actually had to close it for avalanche control,” Shanks said. “We have done control there earlier in the year, but it is really unusual for this time of year.”
For Telluriders who haven¹t already left for far-off beaches or the red rocks of Utah, the heavy snowfall comes just days after the ski area closed and some have taken it upon themselves to hike the ski area and make some turns on the fresh and deep powder. This, according to the Telluride Ski and Golf Company, is not a safe activity.
On Thursday, Telski issued a press release asking people to refrain from post-season skiing, snowboarding or sledding on the mountain.
“Crews are working on the front side of the mountain, especially with work being done on the gondola, lifts and runs,” stated the press release. “Slide conditions also exist with the new snow. No ski patrol or first aid services are available on the mountain. The resort appreciates local cooperation and support of post-season safety by refraining from skiing, snowboarding or sledding on the ski area.”
For those who still have winter fever, most other Colorado ski resorts are still open and road conditions are expected to improve.
For updated road conditions visit www.cotrip.org or call 511 from anywhere in the state for updated travel information.