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Spring snowstorm expected to hit Southwest Colorado this weekend

Temperatures expected to cool after weeks in the mid 50s
The San Juan Mountains are expected to receive between 10 inches and 20 inches of snow from this weekend’s storm. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Winter weather is not quite finished in Southwest Colorado.

After weeks of warmer temperatures, a substantial winter storm is supposed to bring between 10 inches and 20 inches of snow to the San Juan Mountains this weekend, said National Weather Service Meteorologist John Kyle.

Depending on temperatures, the lower elevations of Durango, Cortez and Pagosa Springs could also experience a few inches.

“If you get the little cooler temperatures, then that’s going to be snow,” he said. “But if you keep those temperatures around 48, then you might have a rain event.”

Snow already impacted other parts of state on Thursday. Interstate 70 westbound was closed Thursday morning because of snow.

The storm is projected to last through 6 a.m. Saturday, bringing around 1 inch to 3 inches to Durango with similar numbers in Pagosa Springs and Cortez.

“Pagosa in this event, you’re not going to have to go very far out of town or up even by the airport before you start getting some better accumulations,” Kyle said.

Purgatory Resort has received 4 inches of snow in the last 24 hours, according to the ski area’s website.

Kyle said Wolf Creek Pass can also expect similar numbers to the San Juan Mountain passes along U.S. Highway 550. Both areas are considered moderate for avalanche danger, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

This means an avalanche can be triggered on most slopes where a foot and a half of new snow is present.

The most dangerous slopes will be where wind had drifted additional snow onto the leeward side of a ridgeline, generally facing easterly directions, the CAIC report says. The CAIC anticipates hazards to rise into the weekend. New snow loads will test buried weak layers from February, and avalanches may grow in size and break across terrain features as snow accumulates.

Wolf Creek Ski Area has already received around 3 inches from Thursday morning’s snowfall.

The NWS seven-day forecast indicates that temperatures will likely remain in the upper 30s and low 40s.


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