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Low-pressure storm brings 6-9 inches of snow to parts of Southwest Colorado

Another small blast of moisture expected early Monday
Fresh snow from a low-pressure system left more than a foot of snow in some high elevations of the San Juan Mountains and about a half foot in lower elevation of Southwest Colorado on Sunday morning. (Durango Herald file)

A low-pressure storm dumped at least a half foot of snow on lower-elevation towns and cities Sunday in Southwest Colorado.

“With that low, that's creating a lot of instability, so you have convection,” said meteorologist David Byers with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. “There's an upward lift with that low pressure that causes showers, and that can put down some pretty heavy snow with it.”

Byers said the system should be out of the area by mid- to late-afternoon Sunday.

The storm brought about 6 inches of snow to Durango as of Sunday morning, Byers said.

As of 4 a.m. Sunday, the Colorado Department of Transportation snowplow crews reported up to 9 inches at Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain passes.

“We’re also getting reports of 6 to 9 inches on Lizard Head Pass and Wolf Creek,” said CDOT spokeswoman Lisa Schwantes. “Our whole southwest region is getting hit.”

Byers said more weather is expected Monday morning, but only a half inch of snow is expected in lower elevations, and about 3 inches in the mountains.

“If you do not have to get out in these types of conditions, and you have the option of staying home and postponing travel, today is a wise day to do that,” Schwantes said. “If you have the advantage of working from home, there is more weather coming, and tomorrow (Monday) morning is a perfect time to do that.”

Schwantes said those looking to go backcountry skiing or snowshoeing should be mindful of where they park along the roadways so that CDOT plows don’t hit parked cars.

“We understand that they’re trying to take advantage of the great conditions, but our snowplows are really trying to keep the roadway clear, and the last thing we want is to plow someone into the side of the road,” she said.

Although she hasn’t heard of any closures, Schwantes said drivers should be prepared for maintenance delays on U.S. highways 550 and 160.

Other than some delays early in the morning as a result of de-icing and snow removal, the Durango-La-Plata County Airport reported few impacts from the storm.

“Really the biggest impacts at the moment are that as we see squalls come through, visibility is dropping at times and causing some challenges with inbound activity,” said airport Director of Aviation Tony Vicari.

Because of low visibility Sunday morning, Vicari said two United Airlines flights were diverted to Albuquerque, but were scheduled to arrive Sunday afternoon in Durango.

Hesperus Ski area reported about 14 inches of fresh snow in the last 24 hours. Purgatory Resort reported 9 inches.


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