Weather dictates whether Independence Pass is open
The Aspen Times
Highway 82 over Independence Pass, southeast of Aspen, is scheduled to remain open until Nov. 7 at 2 p.m. – unless Mother Nature takes matters into her own hands. And, she just might.
Nov. 7 is the annual scheduled closure date for the pass, but wintery weather regularly forces the Colorado Department of Transportation to lock the gates on either side of the 12,095-foot pass early.
Four to six inches of snow are forecast for the weekend, mostly above timberline. Saturday, travelers experienced icy conditions and snowpacked roads in the mountains.
Aspen’s forecast called for rain and a chance of snow through the weekend and into next week, as a changing weather pattern brings an abrupt end to what has been a long, temperate fall. Strong winds are expected Monday ahead of a cold front; clearing skies are not expected until Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
Still, the lower reaches of Independence Pass remained painted in the lingering hues of autumn on Friday morning. A modest accumulation of fresh snow graced the summit.
Last year, CDOT closed the pass on Oct. 27 in advance of an approaching storm, intending to reopen it if weather conditions permitted. Instead, drifting snow, poor visibility and the potential for more snow convinced CDOT to leave the route closed. In 2008, CDOT locked the gate four days ahead of the scheduled November closure date after a foot of snow fell on the upper reaches of the pass, stranding motorists who were rescued by deputies.
In 2007, good weather kept the pass open until its scheduled closure on Nov. 7, while in 2006, the pass was closed for a brief spell during an unusual September snowstorm, and closed for good on Oct. 20.
The pass was open until Nov. 7 in 2005, 2003 and 2001.
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