Snow wreaks havoc with accidents, road closures; more expected this week
A major snowstorm slammed into western Colorado on Monday, causing multiple car accidents and road closures and promising to make a mess of this morning’s commute.
A total of 4.2 inches of snow had fallen at Grand Junction Regional Airport as of 9 p.m., breaking the record of 1.8 inches set in 1932, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
The snow let up Monday evening but was expected to start again overnight, with another 2 to 4 inches forecast. That would put this storm in rare company, as there have been only 15 occasions in 115 years in which 6 or more inches of snow fell within a 48-hour period in
Grand Junction in December, meteorologist Joe Ramey said.
Semitrailers, pickups and passenger cars rolled or slid off roads or slammed into one another across the valley, as dozens of accidents were reported well into Monday night. No major injuries were reported.
Police closed westbound Interstate 70 at Horizon Drive and at the Clifton exit at one point during the afternoon. Colorado National Monument officials closed Rim Rock Drive over the monument except for a four-mile stretch between the east entrance and DS Road to allow access to Glade Park.
Kristin Winn, spokeswoman for the city’s Public Works and Planning Department, said all nine of the city’s snowplows and sand trucks were attempting to clear local streets and would work throughout the night. Mesa County officials also said they were working to clear arterial streets.
But crews nevertheless struggled to keep up. Several major roads had not been plowed, and motorists reported having trouble navigating hills.
“One of the challenges at this time of the day when you get a lot of people coming home from work is that our plows get stuck in the traffic the same as everybody else, so it’s tough for them to get around,” Winn said during Monday evening’s rush hour.
The Colorado State Patrol and Grand Junction Police Department issued indefinite accident alerts, asking motorists to exchange information rather than immediately calling police unless accidents involve injuries or alcohol or require tow trucks to clear the roadway.
Grand Junction is now up to 11.8 inches of snow for the month of December. That’s well above the 30-year average of 4.8 inches for the month, according to the weather service.
Ramey said there will be a break in the snow tonight into Christmas Eve before another front passes through Christmas Day, creating a good chance for snow Thursday night into Friday.