Storm closes Independence Pass; winter arrives in Aspen
October 25, 2010
ASPEN – Highway 82 over Independence Pass, southeast of Aspen, was closed at 9 a.m. Monday as a winter storm intensified. The Colorado Department of Transportation called the closure temporary, intending to decide later whether the route can be reopened yet this fall.
Winter hit the upper Roaring Fork Valley swiftly Monday morning. Rain turned to sleet at about 8:15 a.m. and then quickly became snow. Less than hour later, it looked like winter was in full swing, with a wet blanket of white coating the roads and everything else.
The National Weather Service had predicted snow Sunday night, but the anticipated cold front swept through western Colorado on Monday morning instead. The weather service is calling for 8 to 16 inches of snow in the mountains and a freeze warning has been issued for the lower valleys of western Colorado, as well.
The weather service is predicting continued snow through Tuesday, before skies clear Wednesday night, with a low around 13 degrees. Sunny skies are forecast for the Aspen area on Thursday, with a high in the low 50s.
Highway 82 over Independence Pass was scheduled to close Nov. 7 at 2 p.m. Whether the pass reopens in advance of that date depends on whether it is safe and feasible to reopen the highway to traffic, according to CDOT.
The storm, including high winds and snowfall, is making travel on the pass and other high-elevation highways treacherous or impossible, CDOT said.
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Last year, CDOT closed the pass on Oct. 27 in advance of an approaching storm, intending to reopen it if weather conditions permitted. Instead, drifting snow, poor visibility and the potential for more snow convinced CDOT to leave the route closed.
Winter driving conditions quickly developed Monday on other roads, as well. The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office issued an alert at about 9:30 a.m., warning travelers that hazardous weather conditions were developing. Snow continued to fall at about noon in Aspen.
Go to http://www.cotrip.org for updated road conditions around the state.