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The one we’ve waited for?

Snowstorm rocks state, but how far south will it go?
Chris Cobos, center, helps guide a snowplow into the garage after its de-icer tanks were filled as crews prepare for a projected snowstorm that is forecast to hit a good chunk of Colorado beginning Saturday and continuing for several days, perhaps until Tuesday.

Colorado is bracing for a long-awaited snowstorm – good news for farmers and ranchers, wildflowers, wildfire crews, skiers and the tourism industry – as much of the state struggles with below-average snowpack.

The National Weather Service predicts up to 9 inches of snow in Durango by Sunday night, with possible snowfall continuing Monday and even Tuesday.

Dan Cuevas, technician with the National Weather Service, said it’s affecting a large part of the state.

“We’ve gotten some double-digit snow amounts across the northern mountains,” he said. “It’s kind of slow-moving but long-winded. It’s going to continue to pump moisture into our region from the west and southwest.”

Local ski resorts are in for a renaissance. If predictions hold up, Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort could see up to 21 inches by Monday morning, and Wolf Creek more than 3 feet. Telluride could see 15 inches, and Silverton Mountain around 18 inches of snow.

“I think all of the highlights we have will have ended pretty much by midnight Monday night, with the southern portions of the forecast areas being the last to see the snow,” Cuevas said.

That means Durango.

Denver International Airport officials said 77 flights were canceled Saturday before the storms, when forecasters warned up to 14 inches could blanket the airport by Monday morning. Snowplows, broom trucks, runway sanders, snow melters and 4,000 gallons of chemicals are on hand to clear the runways for planes if the snow gets worse, as forecasters predict.

In Durango, most United Airlines flights to and from Denver were cancelled Saturday evening and may be through Sunday.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is advising people be prepared.

In a news release regarding the storm, CDOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt said, “We cannot stress enough the need for folks to know the conditions, prepare their vehicles with good snow tires and top up fluids. And drive for the conditions.”

CDOT will have 684 plows deployed across the state, 109 of them in south-central and Southwest Colorado. CDOT’s Durango maintenance superintendent Greg Stacy said highway closures are possible with heavy snow for avalanche control work on Red Mountain Pass.

Durango’s highs will be around 41 Sunday and Monday, and lows are expected around 24 for both days. Clouds are expected to clear out Tuesday night.

bmathis@durangoherald.com. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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