Independence Pass stays closed; light snow blankets Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Independence Pass stays closed; light snow blankets Aspen

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

ASPEN – Aspen is once again a dead-end town. Highway 82 over Independence Pass will remain closed for the winter season, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced Thursday.

CDOT closed the pass on Tuesday afternoon, in advance of an approaching snowstorm, intending to reopen it if weather conditions permitted. CDOT cited drifting snow, low visibility and the potential for additional snow in its decision to simply leave the route closed.

The 12,095-foot pass was scheduled to close for the winter on Nov. 6 at 2 p.m., regardless of the weather.

The closure gate on the Aspen side is a few miles east of town. The pass is closed for an 18-mile stretch over the Continental Divide, to just west of Twin Lakes. It is typically reopened each spring in May for the Memorial Day weekend.

While it’s closed, the only route in and out of Aspen for motorists is on Highway 82 from the west, from Glenwood Springs and Interstate 70.

The target closure date for the pass is always in early November, but weather conditions frequently force an earlier closure. CDOT locked the gate on Nov. 4 last year, three days before its Nov. 7 scheduled closure, and deputies had to rescue stranded motorists after a storm hit the mountains.

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This year, the storm that moved into Colorado Tuesday dumped more than a foot of snow in the Denver area on Wednesday, but in Aspen, only a few inches of fluff covered the landscape Thursday morning and the lightly falling snow tapered off by mid-morning.

The Aspen Skiing Co. fired up its snowmaking guns on Aspen Mountain on Wednesday night – earlier than usual – taking advantage of the cold temperatures.

Aspen remains under a winter storm warning until 6 p.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service, which is predicting a foot to 2 feet of snow in the mountains.

In its morning forecast, the weather service was calling for 4 to 7 inches in Aspen Thursday, with highs of 15 to 25. Cloudy skies and a chance for snow remain in the forecast through Friday night; partly sunny skies are expected Saturday.