Snowstorm snaps routine in Glenwood
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Oscar McCollum wakes up, goes outside every day and sticks a ruler into the snow.
“We’ve had about 13 inches this winter so far in town,” he said, speaking about this year’s totals through Wednesday morning. He measured 11.5 inches in four days – as of Wednesday morning – and about seven inches Tuesday.
McCollum, a Glenwood Springs resident, records daily precipitation levels and temperatures for a research project originating from Colorado State University called the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. Its motto is “because every drop counts” and McCollum said it’s meant to provide detailed data to better forecast weather.
Wednesday’s snow wreaked havoc with travel and closed schools in Glenwood Springs, where, in an unusual weather reversal, residents downvalley woke up to more snow than their upvalley counterparts in Aspen.
A rollover crash near Silt disrupted the normal traffic flow for most of the morning with a single-lane closure on Interstate 70 from about 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
“It’s been a busy morning,” Colorado State Patrol Capt. Rich Duran said. “I think there was a total of five separate accidents at that location.”
The rollover and resulting single-lane closure backed up traffic and caused several other accidents. Several other vehicles slid off the highway or crashed in the area between Rifle and Parachute, and a few more slid off the highway or crashed in the South Canyon area west of Glenwood, according to Duran.
There were also several accidents on Highway 82 between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs on Wednesday, but none involved serious injury as of late Wednesday afternoon. Duran said the state patrol received a report that a jackknifed semi-trailer was blocking the eastbound lanes of I-70 near New Castle at about 4:30 p.m.
Capt. Chad Harris of the Glenwood Springs Fire Department said crews responded to five accidents on Highway 82 and I-70 within about an hour’s time early Wednesday evening, including one three-car accident on 82. None resulted in injuries.
Another effect of the continuing snow Wednesday: Glenwood’s Wal-Mart was out of ice melt.
“We have no ice melt right now,” said Sara Classen, an employee. “It’s been getting bought out.”
Schools in Glenwood Springs called the second snow day of the year Wednesday. On Monday, the entire Roaring Fork School District, including schools in Glenwood, Basalt and Carbondale, closed for the district’s first snow day of the year. The district also resheduled Wednesday evening’s school board meeting to next Tuesday out of concerns about icy roads.
The Garfield School District Re-2, including schools in Rifle, Silt and New Castle, canceled its after-school activities Wednesday, but director of districtwide affairs Theresa Hamilton said the district hadn’t called a snow day for at least 20 years.
On Wednesday morning, Sunlight Mountain Resort reported 4 inches of snow in 48 hours, with a 42-inch base. Marketing manager Dylan Lewis said Sunlight probably got about five inches more by Wednesday evening.
“Both parking lots were filled today, so it was actually a good Wednesday,” said Lewis. “I was thinking about sending a gift basket over to the (Re-1) superintendent for calling another snow day.”
In fact, Sunlight reported 5 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours in its Thursday morning snow report. At the upper end of the valley, Snowmass also received 5 inches in the past 24 hours, while Aspen Mountain picked up 4 inches and Highlands and Buttermilk both received 2 inches.
Snowpack in the upper Colorado River basin is estimated at 117 percent of the average value. Spring runoff for the Roaring Fork River near Glenwood is currently forecast at 106 percent of average, while Colorado River spring runoff is forecast at around 100 percent of average, according to the National Weather Service, which said the figures are likely to change as the winter progresses.
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The city of Aspen bought 20 bike lockers last year for $20,000 in hopes people would take the bus and ride their bikes into town instead of driving their cars. The idea hasn’t gained traction since only one is being rented.