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Winter storm blows into Colorado

Catherine Tsai
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Snow falling as fast as an inch an hour Sunday dumped 10 to 20 inches in parts of Durango, closing several mountain passes in southwest Colorado and crimping business on Super Bowl Sunday.

Pizza cook Colter Niendorf said it was nearly all white outside the downtown Durango restaurant where he works.

“We don’t have any drivers today because of the snow. We can’t do any deliveries,” he said.



Forecasters did not expect a break in the snow until Monday night or early Tuesday, National Weather Service senior forecaster Chris Cuoco said.

By Sunday afternoon, Fort Lewis College had decided to cancel classes for Monday and said campus offices would be closed.




Heavy snow was expected for all of western Colorado during the storm through Monday, from Aspen through Vail and Steamboat Springs, as subtropical moisture mixed with cold air from the north, Cuoco said.

The heavy snow and wind were expected to make driving difficult on Interstate 70 from eastern Utah all the way to Vail Pass. Go to http://www.cotrip.org for updated statewide road conditions.

In Aspen and Snowmass, snow began falling Sunday afternoon. Snowmass reported 9 inches by early Monday, while 6 inches fell at Aspen Highlands. Aspen Mountain and Buttermilk both picked up 5 inches, according to the Aspen Skiing Co., and snow continues to fall. Sunlight Mountain Resort outside of Glenwood Springs reported 7 inches of new snow.

A winter storm warning remains in effect until 6 a.m. Tuesday for the mountains surrounding Aspen and Snowmass, according to the National Weather Service. Total accumulations of up to 2 feet are possible before the storm moves out.

Schools in Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs were closed.

The avalanche danger was rated high for southwest Colorado but also for areas including Crested Butte and Aspen, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Colorado 133 over McClure Pass, south of Carbondale, was closed due to an avalanche Sunday evening and remained closed Monday morning.

In Antonito near the New Mexico border, Danna Lujan reported near whiteout conditions. “It’s coming down hard,” she said.

In Durango, Niendorf said he shoveled his driveway Sunday morning, then went outside again six hours later to start the car. “The snow looked like it did before I started shoveling,” he said.

Several winter storms have helped push snowpack in southern Colorado far above the 30-year average. Snowpack in the Arkansas River basin in southeast Colorado was 162 percent of average as of Friday, 168 percent of average in the Upper Rio Grande and 158 percent of average in the southwest corner of the state.

Among ski areas, Wolf Creek in southwest Colorado led resorts with a 146 inch base at its mid-mountain reporting station. It reported 26 inches of fresh snow Sunday within the past 24 hours.


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