Roaring Fork Valley in winter storm warning through Monday with a foot or more of snow forecast for higher elevations
Travel is discouraged as storm rolls into Colorado mountains, Front Range
Editor’s note: This story has been revised from an earlier version to clarify the Roaring Fork School District’s snow day policy, as several more grade levels are slated to return to classrooms on Monday. If a snow day is called, there would not be an expectation of online coursework, district officials said.
The first major snowstorm of the season is expected to roll into Colorado on Sunday afternoon with the mountains around Aspen and Carbondale seeing up to two feet of snow by Monday evening, according to the National Weather Service.
A winter storm warning is in effect starting Sunday morning until 6 p.m. Monday for nearly all of central and western Colorado, and travel is being discouraged, especially along Interstate 70 and over mountain passes.
Along with the snow, high winds and “bitterly cold temperatures” are in the NWS forecast.
The forecast calls for snow accumulations of “7 to 14 inches, with higher amounts nearing two feet in the higher portions of the Elk and West Elk Mountains. Winds gusting as high as 40 mph,” according to the weather service’s winter storm warning updated early Sunday morning.
The NWS is predicting most of the Colorado mountain ranges will see 6 to 12 inches, and locally higher amounts are possible “with the potential for a heavier snow band to develop and, depending on where the band sets up, snowfall totals could be much higher.”
The Aspen forecast calls for overnight lows Sunday and Monday in the single digits, and the high Monday at 32 degrees.
A significant #winter storm will bring moderate to heavy #snow for the W CO Mtns today and tomorrow. A strong cold front will drive snow levels down this afternoon and evening with snow accumulating in most valleys. Be prepared for hazardous travel! #cowx #utwx pic.twitter.com/TxcC6jGSlt— NWS Grand Junction (@NWSGJT) October 25, 2020
The Colorado Department of Transportation sent out a message Saturday night discouraging travel for the next two days.
“Chain and traction laws are likely (on I-70), so motorists should check tires before traveling and have chains or auto socks on hand,” the agency said in a news release Saturday evening. “CDOT continues to ask motorists to not travel to the high country, due to wildfire operations and evacuations. If travel in the high country is necessary, be sure to have an emergency kit in the event of road closures or delays due to winter weather.”
The drastic change in weather is expected to help the crews working on the East Troublesome (192,000 acres burned) and Cameron Peak (208,000 acres) fires burning in north central Colorado.
Those traveling through the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport should check with their airlines or go to aspenairport.com for updates. Two United flights to Denver scheduled to leave Sunday afternoon have been canceled, as of Sunday morning.
The Roaring Fork Schools are planning for grades 4-8 to return to in-person learning on Monday, along with K-3, which began last week. Aspen School District is also planning for middle school and high school students to return to in-person learning on Monday.
Officials from both districts will decide early Monday morning if classes are canceled due to weather.
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A brush fire caused by a propane tank explosion at a homeless encampment near the base of Red Hill outside Carbondale on Tuesday night was brought under control by local firefighters in fairly short order.