News in Brief
DENVER (AP) ” Two storm systems moving across Colorado unleashed the latest in a rash of recent winter storms Sunday, dumping several inches of snow and whipping up strong winds on the eastern plains, creating white-out conditions that made travel dangerous.
Transportation officials closed Interstate 70 in both directions from Airpark Road near Denver International Airport east to Burlington near the Kansas state line Sunday evening because of high winds, blowing snow, poor visibility and ice. State troopers were reporting several accidents, mostly of four-wheel-drive vehicles going too fast for conditions, said Mindy Crane, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation.
“We’ve been getting gusts anywhere from 30 to 40 mph. That’s the main problem we’re battling now,” Crane said.
Multiple accidents caused by blowing snow and icy roads closed southbound Interstate 25 at about Colorado 14 near Fort Collins for two hours Sunday morning. Master Trooper Ron Watkins of the Colorado State Patrol said there were no reports of injuries.
Watkins said Colorado 86 from Kiowa east to I-70 was closed because of whiteout conditions. Snow drifts up to 3 feet and winds as strong as 60 mph were reported in the area, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder.
“With the storm, driving is hazardous all over the state,” Watkins said.
U.S. 36 from Airpark Road to Last Chance in eastern Colorado was closed, as was U.S. 160 between Springfield and Trinidad in southern Colorado.
The State Patrol advised no unnecessary travel.
Glenda Clark, manager of the Flying J truck stop in Limon about 90 miles east of Denver, said people whose vehicles had slid off the highway were waiting at the truck stop’s restaurant for tow trucks. She said truck drivers headed east were fueling up, trying to beat the worst of the storm so they wouldn’t get stranded.
Through Sunday, Denver has had 32 straight days of measurable snow cover, defined as having at least an inch of snow on the ground, the National Weather Service said.
Thirteen inches had fallen in Coal Creek Canyon, about 7 miles south of Boulder, by Sunday evening and nearly a foot had fallen southeast of Denver, Weather Service meteorologist Rob Krohn said.
The good news for Coloradans tired after more than a month of frequent storms was that the snow was expected to move out of the state today.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS (AP) ” As Colorado water managers map future supply and use, they say global warming is the wild card that can’t be ignored.
Potential impacts of climate change on future Colorado River flows have to be factored into projected demands, especially with the growing population along the Front Range, said Eric Kuhn, director of the Colorado River Water Conservation District.
Kuhn said recent findings by nationally recognized climatologist Robert Balling suggest annual runoff from spring snowmelt in the Colorado River basin could decrease 35 percent by 2050.
The size of Colorado’s snowpack and when it melts are vital because the snow provides most of the state’s water as well as water for other Western states.
“The issue of future climate change on water resources is just now beginning to get attention within the water community,” Kuhn said last week at a meeting of the district’s board of directors.
Most scientists worldwide agree the global temperature is rising and blame increasing levels of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, released by the burning of fossil fuels.
The Statewide Water Supply Initiative, commissioned by the Legislature in 2003, sized up water supplies and projeted demands. It found the state will need more than 600,000 acre-feet of new water supplies by 2030.
An acre-foot, enough water to cover an acre a foot deep, is enough water for a family of four for a year.
Several projects are being studied to bridge the gap between existing supplies and future needs. The $4 billion Yampa Diversion Project by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District would pull about 300,000 acre feet a year out of the Yampa River at Maybell and ship it through about 200 miles of pipelines and tunnels under the mountains to the plains, where it would serve Front Range cities.
“If climate change were to reduce stream flows, is there really a reliable water supply for these projects?” Kuhn asked. “The difficult challenge [will be] how to incorporate climate change into water policy decision making in a reasonable and understandable manner.”
GRAND JUNCTION (AP) ” A 15-year-old boy accused of bringing a loaded revolver to Grand Junction High Schoolpleaded guilty to possessing a weapon on school grounds.
The boy pleaded guilty Friday in a plea agreement that called for misdemeanor charges of theft, possession of a handgun by a juvenile, and unlawfully carrying a weapon on school grounds to be dropped.
He faces up to two years in the Division of Youth Corrections, mandatory parole, $300 in fines or community service at a sentencing hearing scheduled for March 9.
The teen was accused of concealing a loaded .357-caliber Magnum Rossi revolver in a holster under his shirt and inside his shorts Dec. 22. The weapon apparently had been stolen from his stepfather, an arrest affidavit said.
Self-defense was one motive police were investigating, spokeswoman Linda Bowman said.
The boy is now attending school at Hilltop Community Resources, said his attorney, Ed Nugent.