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Showers provide snow in higher elevations of Southwest Colorado

Cortez experiences snowfall, while Durango receives much needed moisture
NWS reports Purgatory Resort received around 3 inches of snow during a Sunday afternoon storm. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Storms throughout Sunday morning and afternoon brought much needed moisture to Southwest Colorado.

Cortez even experienced a little bit of snow Sunday afternoon. The precipitation arrived just a day after Purgatory opened its 2023-24 ski season. As of Sunday, the resort was only 2% open with skiers having to download off lift 1.

Purgatory did not report how much snow it received from the Sunday afternoon storm, but as of Saturday the base was at 18 inches of depth.

National Weather Service meteorologist Dennis Phillips said Purgatory likely received a “few inches” during the storms on Sunday.

Although Cortez receiving possibly an inch of snow, Durango only experienced rain on Sunday. Phillips said temperatures reached as low as 33 degrees when it was snowing in Cortez, but Durango stayed around 37 degrees.

“Sometimes, the precipitation rate if it gets strong enough, it'll kind of artificially cool the atmosphere,” Phillips said.

Phillips said that the higher elevations of the southern San Juan Mountains received up to 6 inches.

A Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) Network report from Weminuche Creek above Pagosa Springs indicated the area received around 3 to 5 inches during the storm.

There were two traffic accidents that occurred Sunday on U.S. Highway 160 East heading over wolf creek pass and another one on U.S. Highway 491 between Cortez and Dove Creek. The Colorado Department of Transportation did not specify whether snow was a factor in either incident.

CDOT did report icy spots on Highway 160 one mile east of Pagosa Springs, and there was some ice on Highway 491 early Sunday afternoon that had melted by 3 p.m., according to the CDOT COtrip map.

Phillips said the higher elevations are more likely to see snowfall on Monday.

“Once Monday is done, we're kind of going to be in a holding pattern until we get back toward the end of the week again,” Phillips said.

As of Sunday, conditions for Thanksgiving look to be partly cloudy in Southwest Colorado, according to the NWS seven-day forecast.


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