A snowstorm is expected to leave 3 to 5 inches in Durango and up to 16 inches in the San Juan Mountains between Sunday night and Tuesday morning, and it should also put an end to the threat from the Ice Fire, which is burning on 596 acres west of Silverton.
“Snow could begin in Silverton and the high country Sunday evening. Rain will transition to snow after midnight (Sunday) at lower elevations from Cortez to Pagosa Springs,” said Erin Walter, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
A winter weather advisory calling for 2 to 5 inches of snow in the Dolores River Basin and 3 to 7 inches of snow in the Animas River Basin is in effect from midnight Sunday through 6 p.m. Monday.
The advisory notes travel will be very difficult, and the storm is expected to slow the Monday morning commute.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the foothills just north of Durango get 7 inches. The town should get between 3 and 5 inches,” Walter said. It might not start snowing in places like Cortez until after sunrise.”
The San Juan Mountains, including Telluride and Silverton, could get 8 to 16 inches, and more snow could fall on favored peaks. Walter said as much as 2½ feet could fall atop Wolf Creek Pass.
“This likely will affect Monday travel and Monday morning’s commute. The message to people is to be ready for winter conditions. Winterize your vehicles and your homes,” Walter said.
Walter expected Monday morning and early afternoon to be the peak period for snow in Southwest Colorado.
The massive storm is expected to impact most of the West, sinking into New Mexico before moving east on Tuesday.
On Sunday, firefighters will be on South Mineral Creek for a final day of patrol and cleanup before the storm is expected to end the threat from the Ice Fire, according to a news release from Andy Lyon, spokesman with the Type 3 Incident Management Team now running operations on the fire
At 6 a.m. Monday, the Type 3 team is expected to return management of the fire back to the Columbine Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest, Lyon said.
The fire was listed at 60% contained on Sunday.
Crews assigned to the fire will be returned home or assigned to other fires on Monday, he said.
On Saturday, crews installed a gate across South Mineral Creek Road near the intersection with Clear Lake Road. Both roads will be closed, as well as the Ice Lakes Trail, for the foreseeable future because of hazards in the fire area.
The fire has not grown for several days, Lyon said.
“Forest Service personnel and Silverton Fire and Rescue Authority will monitor the fire area throughout the fall. Small amounts of smoke may be intermittently visible until there is enough snow to smother the remaining hot spots,” Lyon said in the news release issued Sunday.
The Forest Service has set up a Facebook page for the Ice Fire where it will provide updates.
The bulk of the snowstorm is expected to be out of Southwest Colorado and the Four Corners by Tuesday morning, however a lingering chance of snow flurries remains in the forecast through Wednesday morning.
The weather service lists a 20% chance of snow in Durango for Wednesday morning.
The low Monday night is expected to be 16 degrees in Durango and 17 degrees in Cortez, 2 degrees in Silverton and 3 degrees in Telluride. Lows are expected to remain below freezing every day this week.
A clearing trend is expected to follow the storm, with highs back to seasonal averages by Friday Walter said.