Sudden spring snowstorm is season’s biggest

CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON/The Daily Sentinel—Flakes pile up on a sculpture at the corner of Main and Fifth streets in downtown Grand Junction. The U.S. Weather Service said 4.6 inches fell Tuesday night and Wednesday at Grand Junction Regional Airport. The 3.8 inches of snow measured Wednesday was the most recorded this winter season for Grand Junction.

GENE BOLLIG/Special to the Sentinel—A tanker truck blocks traffic in one direction of U.S. Highway 50 south of Grand Junction near the Delta County line after going out of control Wednesday morning during a snowstorm.

The biggest snowstorm of the season Wednesday layered the Grand Valley with a thick, wet blanket of flakes that triggered accidents across the region, the closure of the school in De Beque and anxiety among peach farmers whose trees have already flowered.

The storm dumped as much as 7 inches of snow in some areas of the valley and more in the higher elevations, according to the National Weather Service. Officially, 4.6 inches accumulated at Grand Junction Regional Airport between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The 3.8 inches of snow that fell Wednesday made it the third-snowiest April day on record in Grand Junction and accounted for the most snow on a single day this season, coming in just ahead of the 3.6 inches that fell in the city on Dec. 19, 2012, according to the National Weather Service.

While motorists fought slick roads Wednesday morning — several accidents were reported, including a tractor-trailer that jackknifed and briefly closed U.S. Highway 50 near the Mesa County-Delta County line — orchardists were concerned with the sub-freezing temperatures that followed overnight.

A freeze warning is in effect until 9 a.m. today, and a freeze watch was forecast for tonight into Friday morning. Lows were expected to dip into the low to mid-20s in the valley, threatening peach blossoms and other tender vegetation.

The owners of Red Barn Farm & Gardens, 3419 U.S. Highway 6, posted on their Facebook page that the forecast was not looking promising for their fruit.

“The apricots are all gone, cherries in the valley will be slim pickings, if any, and peaches are heading out very quickly with this snow and cold temperatures. Pray for a warm weather change and some tasty fruit this summer! I hope you all love pears, tomatoes, and the regular garden veggies, because that’s about all we might have!” the post said.

Wednesday’s storm closed school in De Beque and forced the cancelation of all School District 51 athletic events Wednesday afternoon and evening.

The weather is expected to improve gradually in the coming days, with Grand Junction’s high reaching back up into the 60s by the weekend.


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