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Another snowstorm hits Four Corners

Area roads and highways were a combination of snow, slush,] and ice Wednesday morning thanks to an overnight snowstorm. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
Lower valleys get 2-4 inches; higher terrain gets 5-12 inches

A strong snowstorm swept through the Four Corners overnight and dumped 2-4 inches of fresh snow in Cortez, 6 inches in Mancos and Dolores, and 5 inches in Dove Creek.

On Wednesday morning, Colorado Highway 145 had a passenger vehicle traction and commercial vehicle chain law from Lizard Head Pass north to the Ophir turnoff.

The pass saw 10 inches of fresh snow overnight, said Erin Walter, National Weather Service meteorologist.

Dolores residents woke up Wednesday to 4-6 inches of fresh snow from the latest winter storm. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
A man clears the sidewalk Wednesday morning at the Dolores Library. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)

U.S. Highway 550 was closed Wednesday morning from Coal Bank Pass to Silverton because of an avalanche.

U.S Highway 160 is wet and icy, with areas of snowpack from Cortez to Towoac, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

From Mancos to Durango, U.S. 160 was icy and snowpacked, and Colorado 145 from Cortez to Lizard Head Pass was icy and snowpacked.

Walter said in Cortez there would be a lull Wednesday before another snowstorm dropped snow in the valleys and high country Thursday and Friday.

“In higher terrain, the snow will continue to fall into Saturday,” she said.

The storm will push out of the Cortez area Saturday, with no precipitation expected Sunday into next week.

Winter snowfall recorded by Snotels in the Dolores and San Miguel River Basins was 114% of normal as of Dec. 29. The Scotch Creek Snotel registered at 125% of normal.

Snow-water equivalent for the Dolores and San Miguel Basins is at 128% of normal.

For road conditions visit the COtrip.org website.

Avalanche Watch issued

An avalanche watch was in effect for the Southern San Juans, Steamboat-Flat Tops, Aspen, Gunnison, and Grand Mesa areas through 8 a.m. Thursday.

According to the avalanche watch: “Heavy snowfall and strong winds return Wednesday night, and avalanche danger will likely rise to High (Level 4 of 5) on Thursday. Expect very dangerous avalanche conditions to last into the weekend. Travel in and under backcountry avalanche terrain is not recommended during periods of High danger.”

On Wednesday, avalanche danger in the Northern and Southern San Juan Mountains from below treeline to above treeline is rated at “considerable,” the third-highest level out of five, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

On Thursday, the avalanche danger for the Southern San Juans near and above treeline is rated “high” at Level 4, meaning very dangerous avalanche conditions, and below treeline is “considerable.” All aspects of the northern San Juans will have a “considerable” avalanche danger Thursday.

Visit avalanche.state.co.us for more information and up-to-date avalanche conditions.