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Arctic weather assaults area

Greg Mass

A bone-chilling cold snap kept roads slick and plumbers busy on Tuesday. The icy air, which was the coldest November day on record in Grand Junction, also chilled things in the Roaring Fork and Colorado river valleys. Recent snows resisted melting in the cold weather, keeping roads snowpacked and icy in many areas. According to the National Weather Service, Grand Junction’s temperature fell to minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit at 6:21 a.m. Tuesday. It broke the record of -2 set in 1976, which was the only other subzero November day in Grand Junction since records have been kept.Although temperatures from Aspen to Rifle were even colder than those in Grand Junction, NWS forecaster Ellen Heffernan said records weren’t broken here. “When you get cold like this, oftentimes you do get more than one broken record,” she said. “But with this one, it looks like it’s just Grand Junction that set the record.”The cold temperatures were a result of a frigid Arctic air mass that settled over the region after the weekend snowstorm exited the state, according to the NWS Web site. On Tuesday morning, Aspen recorded a temperature of -12 degrees, Rifle saw minus 10 degrees and Battlement Mesa plunged to minus 9 degrees. The official low temperature for Glenwood Springs on Tuesday morning had not been reported to the NWS by press time. “It’s kind of the cold from behind the storm,” Heffernan said. “It’s a northwesterly flow and a very cold air mass that’s moved over western Colorado.”She said the snow cover, coupled with clear skies that allow heat to escape into the atmosphere, all added to the nippy mix.”Oftentimes it will be colder in the valleys. Sometimes it’s harder to flush out those cold valleys,” Heffernan said. “Sometimes it will persist for days.”In this case, Heffernan said the temperatures should start moderating today and get back closer to the norms for this time of year – although she was still expecting to see a lot of below-zero readings in the region early Wednesday morning. Ron Hoffarth, a service technician for Hi-Tech Plumbing in Glenwood Springs, said he was on Red Mountain Tuesday fixing a frozen sewer line. “It’s mostly the installation of the thing more than anything else” that causes problems, he said. “And people not checking their heat tape.”The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office didn’t report any major cold-weather incidents, but Sheriff Lou Vallario said there were quite a few accidents over the weekend caused by the snowstorm. Heffernan said along with the moderating temperatures, there are a few weak disturbances expected in the atmosphere later this week. The possibility of any substantial snowfall, however, doesn’t come until late this weekend. Contact Greg Mass: 945-8515, ext. 511gmasse@postindependent.com


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