Snow is expected to ease throughout the day Sunday, but an unsettled weather pattern looks to bring more snow to Southwest Colorado later this week.
“There’s not going to be much more today. It’s going to be pretty light. Things are going to start winding down throughout the day as the system exits the area, said Megan Stackhouse, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
About 8 inches fell overnight in Durango, with perhaps another inch to come Sunday. The San Juan Mountains could get 4 additional inches.
At 7 a.m., Vallecito reported 18 inches of snow, a deeper accumulation than Silverton, which reported 4.1 inches. Other snowfall accumulations reported to the weather service included 11 inches in Trimble, 10.8 inches at Rockwood, 10.5 inches in Pagosa Springs and 10 inches east of Dolores.
As of 5 a.m., Purgatory Resort reported 9 inches of snow in the past 24 hours. Wolf Creek Ski Area reported 22 inches in the past 24 hours, and Telluride Ski Area reported 4 inches of snow in the past 24 hours.
John Palmer, Colorado Department of Transportation deputy superintendent of maintenance, said crews were on avalanche maintenance on Wolf Creek Pass. The pass was closed from 6 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. Sunday.
“We’ve received a significant amount of snow in the high country. That means we’ll be keeping a close eye on the avalanche slide paths that could potentially fall on the highways. Avalanche control missions may be likely in the next few days. These safety closures typically last about an hour or two. But it is also not unheard of for our avalanche control work to take half a day,” Palmer said
Anyone traveling over mountain passes should check the CDOT COtrip.org map to see if any closure alerts posted.
Jim Andrus, a weather watcher in Cortez, more than 7.6 inches had fallen as of 9 a.m. and light snow was still falling at 11:30 a.m.
“We’ve had a really significant change in our weather pattern. We’re doing some catching up now. The dry pattern ended about the middle of January, and suddenly we started getting some good amounts of precipitation, he said.
Cortez is now at 101% of the average snowfall for February. Year-to-date, Andrus reported Cortez is at 97% of average snowfall for the year, with 27.7 inches.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Snotel reported Southwest Colorado river basins are at 86% of total snowpack compared with the 30-year average.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is reporting the avalanche risk as “considerable” in the San Juan Mountains.
Stackhouse said another snowstorm is expected hit Southwest Colorado Monday night and Tuesday.
“It’s not being as strong as this system. But it’s plenty cold compared to last time, when we had that warm air out ahead of it. So it looks more promising to start out as snow for all elevations,” she said.
Stackhouse said lower elevations along the U.S. Highway 160 corridor could expect a few inches of snow, and the mountains could expect 6 to 8 inches of accumulation before the storm departs Tuesday.
“We’re in a very unsettled pattern. So it’s looking like we’re gonna have a couple of disturbances dropping in from the Pacific Northwest every few days. But its’ too early to tell where exactly those waves are going to go at this point. But either way, we’re in a very unsettled pattern, she said.