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Winter weather is here

Snow in valleys by Saturday

The long wait for precipitation – any precipitation – appears to be over.

National Weather Service meteorologists in Grand Junction say there’s a 70 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms today and snow in Durango by Saturday.

A winter storm warning – the result of a “vigorous” Pacific storm pushing across the Great Basin – will be in effect from 6 a.m. to midnight today.

Fire officials are expecting help from the change in weather to assist dousing the Vallecito Fire north of Durango and the Coal Creek Fire northeast of Pagosa Springs.

Tonight, rain could turn to snow – 1 to 3 inches possible – above 8,500 feet elevation as temperatures drop to the mid-20s. The chance for precipitation is 80 percent.

Snow – 2 to 4 inches – may be found in most valleys Saturday as temperatures drop into the low teens.

The chance for snow Saturday night falls to 50 percent. There’s a chance of snow Sunday, particularly over the high mountains, before 11 a.m. as clearing begins.

Clearing will bring frigid temperatures, with lows of 4, 10 and 18 degrees Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

It will be sunny or partly cloudy through Thursday.

Colorado Department of Transportation crews on U.S. Highway 550 over Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain passes are preparing for a foot of snow, spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said Thursday.

One crew is on an eight-hour shift and two crews are working 12-hour shifts, Shanks said.

“Motorists on Highway 550 should be prepared for icy roads, and they would be wise to have snow tires,” Shanks said. “The chain law, which requires chains on commercial vehicles, likely will be in effect.”

CDOT is closing Independence Pass, a narrow, winding highway between Vail and Leadville.

daler@durangoherald.com

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