Christmas a white one indeed
The snow that blanketed the Grand Valley by Christmas morning won’t be the last the region will see before the week is out, the National Weather Service is predicting.
Another slow moving Pacific storm is expected to move into the region by this morning, and like the one that passed over on Christmas Eve, this storm is expected to impact the entire area, the service says in its latest weather advisory.
“While not as strong as the previous storm, this system will be much more protracted, lingering over the area through early Friday morning before finally moving east of the region,” the advisory says. “As a result, up to one foot of new snow with locally higher amounts on favored west-facing slopes is expected by early Friday.”
How low in elevation that snow will go is not yet known.
Monday’s storm left about 3.2 inches of the white stuff on the Grand Valley by the time it cleared out of the area early Tuesday. That’s an inch below the record set back in 1962, according to weather service data.
Powderhorn Mountain Restore atop the Grand Mesa reported Tuesday that the Christmas Eve storm dumped 14 inches of snow on its slopes, leaving it a base of about 38 inches.
Meanwhile, Colorado Department of Transportation maintenance crews were placed on 12-hour snow shifts early Christmas morning, and will remain that way indefinitely.
Crews work in shifts of noon to midnight, and then from midnight to noon. Altogether, up to 50 plows were clearing roads in the northwest region alone, including Vail Pass and throughout Eagle County.
Highways near Craig, Dotsero, Eagle, Gypsum, Meeker and Steamboat Springs, to name a few, were snowpacked with some icy conditions, making driving conditions treacherous in spots. Some roads saw as much as eight inches by the time the snow ended early Tuesday, but none were closed, according to CDOT spokeswoman Ashley Mohr.
Quick melting during the day Tuesday, and refreezing overnight, could leave roads even more dangerous by this morning, particularly on bridges, overpasses and highway ramps, Mohr said.
Snow forced the closure of the upper section of Rim Rock Drive from DS Road to the Independence Monument overlook on the Colorado National Monument, but officials reported Tuesday it was reopened by 10 a.m. after it was plowed and sanded.
Despite that, motorists still are advised to use caution because of packed snow and black ice.