Snowstorm snaps routine |

Snowstorm snaps routine

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kara K. Pearson Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Oscar McCollum wakes up, goes outside every day and sticks a ruler into the snow. “We’ve had about 13 inches this winter so far in town,” he said, speaking about this year’s totals through Wednesday morning. He measured 11.5 inches in four days – as of Wednesday morning – and about seven inches Tuesday.

McCollum, who lives in Glenwood Springs, records daily precipitation levels and temperatures for a research project originating from Colorado State University called the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. Its motto is “because every drop counts” and McCollum said it’s meant to provide detailed data to better forecast weather. McCollum has recorded weather data almost constantly since he lived in Marble in 1976.Everything looked white on Wednesday with clouds, fog and snow everywhere. National Weather Service winter weather warnings and advisories were in effect for most of western Colorado through the day and night. The slick roads played havoc on some highway drivers.A rollover crash near Silt disrupted the normal traffic flow for most of the morning with a single-lane closure on Interstate 70 from about 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.”It’s been a busy morning,” Colorado State Patrol Capt. Rich Duran said. “I think there was a total of five separate accidents at that location.”

The rollover started a single-lane closure, which backed up traffic and caused several other accidents between vehicles arriving at the area. Several others slid off the highway or crashed in the area between Rifle and Parachute, and a few more slid off the highway or crashed in the South Canyon area, according to Duran.There were also several accidents on Highway 82 between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs on Wednesday, but none involved serious injury as of late Wednesday afternoon. Duran said the CSP received a report around 4:30 p.m. that a jackknifed semi-trailer was blocking the eastbound lanes of I-70 near New Castle.Capt. Chad Harris of the Glenwood Springs Fire Department said crews responded to five accidents on Highway 82 and I-70 within about an hour’s time early Wednesday evening, including one three-car accident on 82. However, none resulted in injuries.Another effect of the continuing snow Wednesday: Glenwood’s Wal-Mart was out of ice melt.”We have no ice melt right now,” said Sara Classen, an employee. “It’s been getting bought out.”

Schools in Glenwood Springs called the second snow day of the year Wednesday. On Monday, the entire Roaring Fork School District Re-1 closed, making that the district’s first snow day of the year. The district also moved its school board meeting from Wednesday night to the following Tuesday due to concerns about icy roads. The Garfield School District Re-2 canceled its after-school activities, but director of districtwide affairs Theresa Hamilton said the district hadn’t called a snow day for at least 20 years.On Wednesday morning, Sunlight Mountain Resort reported 4 inches of snow in 48 hours, with a 42-inch base. Marketing manager Dylan Lewis said Sunlight probably got about five inches more by Wednesday evening.”Both parking lots were filled today so it was actually a good Wednesday,” said Lewis. “I was thinking about sending a gift basket over to the (Re-1) superintendent for calling another snow day.”

Snowpack in the upper Colorado River basin is estimated at 117 percent of the average value. Spring runoff for the Roaring Fork River near Glenwood is currently forecast at 106 percent of average, while Colorado River spring runoff is forecast at around 100 percent of average, according to the NWS, which said the figures are likely to change as the winter progresses.More snow could be on the way.The NWS forecasted a 20 percent chance of snow today and a 30 percent chance of snow Friday. Saturday and Sunday are expected to be partly sunny with highs near 34 degrees.The NWS predicts the recent pattern of above-average amounts of snowfall will likely moderate to normal amounts for northern Colorado and below-normal amounts of precipitation for the southern part of the state later this month. The expectation comes in part due to the current La Niña phenomenon, which suggests above-average temperatures should be expected for the rest of the winter.Contact Pete Fowler:

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