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Winter weather disrupts travel, schools across Southwest Colorado

Chance for snow remains until Tuesday evening

Travel and schools were impacted Monday morning after a winter storm caused inclement weather throughout Southwest Colorado.

The Colorado Department of Transportation announced Monday morning winter operations work would cause significant delays on Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain passes.

“Work will take place throughout much of the morning along the entire corridor,” CDOT said. “The area is receiving a significant amount of snow. Motorists will encounter a lengthy delay and are urged to allow for extra travel time.”

As of Monday afternoon, the passes had fully reopened.

CDOT also said U.S. Highway 160 at Wolf Creek Pass will close Tuesday morning for winter operations. Work will begin around 5:30 a.m. on the west side of the pass.

Eastbound traffic will be stopped at the chain-up station at Treasure Falls near milepost 157. Westbound traffic will be stopped at the top of Wolf Creek Pass near the ski area at milepost 167.

Chain and traction laws remained in effect for the passes as of Monday morning.

Area schools have also been impacted.

Durango School District 9-R said all-remote learning will resume for in-person learners and child care and Kids’ Camp are all canceled. Remote meal services were also canceled Monday.

“Please reach out to your school or your child’s teacher for support with remote learning,” 9-R wrote in an email to parents.

According to its website, Bayfield School District canceled all classes, including remote learning. Ignacio School District remained open.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center issued an avalanche watch for the San Juan Mountains.

“Expect an additional 8 to 12 inches of new snow by mid-day on Tuesday bringing the multi-day snow total close to 4 feet in some areas,” the CAIC wrote. “Natural avalanches are likely with heavy snowfall on Tuesday morning. Large dangerous human-triggered avalanches are likely throughout the day on Tuesday.”

Most of Monday should see a lull in snow, but winter weather is expected to pick back up after 4 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. A winter weather advisory goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday and lasts until 5 p.m. Tuesday.

In the past 72 hours, the NWS reports areas around Durango received 6 to 12 inches of snow. Areas around Silverton reported up to 24 inches of snow.

Although the series of storms is not yet over, the past few days have seen a boost in snowpack. Southwest Colorado is now reporting snowpack at 76% of historic averages, up about 10% from last week.

The NWS predicts Wednesday and Thursday will remain dry, with the chance for snow returning Friday.

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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