Fog, icy road conditions make for tricky traveling

Grand Junction police officers investigate a six-vehicle accident Monday morning on the Fifth Street bridge that briefly closed the bridge in both directions and sent one person to the hospital. Ice on the valley’s bridges and dense fog contributed to numerous accidents around the area including several on I-70 in DeBeque Canyon.

Some motorists experienced a harrowing commute to work Monday after an unusual layer of fog blanketed the Grand Valley and sloppy snow that fell over the weekend turned icy.

Drivers attempting to get to and from Orchard Mesa probably had the worst of it, as crashes snarled traffic on the 29 Road bridge and the Fifth Street bridge.

Six crashes occurred in the Grand Valley between 3:30 a.m. and 7:15 a.m., said Kate Porras, Grand Junction Police Department spokeswoman.

Moisture-laden snow that fell Friday night and Saturday downed tree branches and power lines across the valley.

Darren Starr, manager of streets, solid waste and storm water for Grand Junction, said snowplow crews were dispatched at 9 p.m. Friday and worked through the night until 10 a.m. on Saturday. Crews also reported downed branches so workers with the city’s parks and recreation department could get a jump start on collecting branches over the weekend, which they did.

“If it wouldn’t have been wet, we would have had a foot or more of fluffy snow,” Starr said.

City crews have to consider how much magnesium chloride to apply to streets, and they were conservative, considering the wet snow and a forecast for warmer temperatures, he said.

In general, snowplow crews first plow major thoroughfares, and then clear areas by hospitals, schools and fire departments, Starr said.

Residential areas are not plowed.

The weekend’s snowfall was the wettest yet that forecaster Travis Booth said he’s seen in his three winters of working for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

Snowfall precipitation measured 4.5 inches in November. Weekend snow helped boost precipitation, which is 11.47 inches for the year so far. Normal precipitation to date for this time of year is 8.73 inches.

The mercury is expected to rise into the high 40s, through Thanksgiving Day, and Friday may be a bit cloudy, Booth said.

“Seasonal temperatures are in the mid 40s, so we’re expected to be a bit above normal,” he said.

The next round of moisture isn’t expected until the weekend, Booth said.

Even with the added moisture, western Colorado still is considered to be abnormally dry, which is a step up from being classified as being in a moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“We’re not out of the drought but we’re getting close with all this monsoonal moisture,” Booth said.


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