Independence Pass closes

The Associated Press
Snow covers a chairlift at Snowmass, where the storm that moved out Saturday night dumped 13 inches of snow up top. (Jeremy Swanson)

Colorado Department of Transportation officials closed Independence Pass on Friday because of weather.The pass remained closed all day Saturday, but CDOT will open it again today or Monday if the weather improves.

CDOT transportation maintenance employee Kane Schneider, said Friday’s weather was “severe enough to close it” and that crews are clearing snow from both sides. Schneider said long-term seasonal closure of the pass is a weather issue. For more information, visit turned to winter elsewhere in the state with up to three feet of snow at ski areas across the high country.Silverton Mountain ski resort reported 36 inches of snow over 48 hours at its highest elevations. Another storm like this week’s and the resort says it will open, well ahead of schedule.

Across the Rockies, ski areas reveled in the first dumping.By Friday, Vail Mountain, Breckenridge Ski Resort and Beaver Creek Resort received more than 2 feet of snow, and Keystone Resort reported 15 inches. Another 5 inches fell early Saturday at Breckenridge.Snowmass, Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands received up to 13 inches of snow on the upper slopes. Buttermilk, at a lower elevation, was dusted with up to six inches of snow, the Aspen Skiing Co. reported.

Loveland and Arapahoe Basin are making snow, racing to be first resort in the nation to open on a full-time basis.A pair of storms back-to-back forced officials to close parts of Interstate 70 overnight Thursday and into Friday. But by Saturday, roads were mostly dry and clear, with a few icy spots at the highest elevations, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.The National Weather Service predicted snow showers across the mountains would taper off by Saturday afternoon, followed by clearing skies and temperatures back up into the 50s and 60s by Monday.

There is one downside to the early snowfall. Pete Edwards, visitors services manager for the U.S. Forest Service, said the aspen leaf season is probably over in most of the northern and central mountains. This weekend would have been peak leaf-viewing time for much of the higher elevations, but the early snow will likely bring a quick end to the season, he said.And while CDOT reports roads are mostly clear, travelers can still expect delays on I-70 for paving work at the Eisenhower Tunnel and cleanup of a rock slide near De Beque Canyon in Mesa County.Aspen Times Staff Writer Charles Agar contributed to this report.