One fat momma wallops mountains | AspenTimes.com
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One fat momma wallops mountains

Steve Benson

As far as snowstorms go, this one was a fat momma that impacted the entire state, shattered some records and put all mountain locations on an avalanche warning.Colorado’s mountains picked up anywhere from 1-2 feet, with top honors going to Crested Butte, which reported more than 45 inches (no, that’s not a typo) Sunday evening.The size and strength of the storm was somewhat unusual, according to Jeff Colton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. When snow began to fall in Aspen Saturday morning, the storm was stretched all the way back to Southern California. “Usually, it’s either the northern or southern mountains that pick up the brunt, but in this case it pretty much hit all the mountain regions,” Colton said. “It’s not typical that we see this, but we see it from time to time.”By noon Sunday, Aspen Mountain was reporting 17 inches, while Snowmass got pummeled with 22. As of 2 p.m., Red Mountain Pass and Telluride were both reporting 13 inches of new snow. Gothic picked up a staggering 32 inches, with 13 falling in Vail and 12-15 inches in Steamboat. Grand Junction’s 6 inches broke a 24-hour snowfall record set in 1971.According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, the new snow fell on a weak underlayer, creating treacherous conditions in all mountain locales.”The load is now enough to cause avalanches that are running down into older snowpack layers, making for sizable” slides, said a statement from the center yesterday afternoon. “We’ve had reports of remotely triggered avalanches, shooting cracks and collapses in the snowpack. These are sure signs of instability and mean that sizable avalanches could be triggered from a distance.” In Summit County, 26 avalanches were reported before noon Sunday, several of which were natural and ran to the ground. In the San Juan Mountains, several natural slides ran onto roads.In Glenwood Canyon, where a huge rock slide shut down the highway on Thanksgiving, driving was tricky.More than a foot fell in the canyon, and with the interstate narrowed to two lanes, there were numerous accidents but no injuries, according to the Colorado State Patrol.In Aspen, 15 traffic accidents occurred between Thanksgiving and Sunday night, mostly due to weather. There were no serious injuries, said Aspen police Sgt. Steve Smith.Police also had their hands full with partygoers following the World Cup races Saturday night. Four people were arrested for DUI, and a Boulder man was arrested for urinating in public.”That’s a rather costly release,” Smith said.He added that DUIs tend to increase during snowstorms.”A person who habitually drives drunk has a lot less to divide their attention on when the roads are clear,” Smith said. “When you throw in snow, ice or rain, it certainly adds to that dynamic, and it raises the probability of them getting caught.”Smith also warned that drivers who fail to remove snow from all of their windows and lights will be issued a $44 ticket.The National Weather Service is calling for cold and dry conditions throughout most of the week, with overnight temperatures dropping below zero. There’s a slight chance of snow midweek, with the next significant system approaching next weekend.Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com


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