Snow arrived as expected Monday in Southwest Colorado, setting off avalanches at Telluride, chain laws on mountain passes, treacherous driving conditions and delays at the Durango-La Plata County Airport.
The National Weather Service in Grand Junction issued a winter storm warning that remains in effect until 6 p.m. Tuesday.
About 2 inches of snow are expected this afternoon in Montezuma County. Up to 10 inches of snow is possible in the lower elevations around Durango, Bayfield, Ignacio and Pagosa Springs.
The heaviest snow was expected to fall this morning and afternoon, the according to the National Weather Service.
In the high country and around the towns of Silverton, Hesperus, Rico, Telluride, Ouray and Lake City, up to 20 inches could accumulate.
The winter storm warning includes the San Juan Mountains, as well as the Abajo and La Sal Mountains in Utah.
Throughout the region, the weather service said travel could be difficult. Wind chills could reach as low as 20 below.
About 10 a.m. Monday, a van carrying an adult couple and several teens slid off U.S. Highway 160/491 and rolled onto its side about 3 miles north of the Ute Mountain Casino in Towaoc. According to the driver, everyone was wearing seat belts, and no one was injured.
According to the San Miguel Sheriff’s Office, multiple avalanches released about 9 a.m. Monday by Ajax Mountain at the East End of Telluride. No injuries were reported.
As of Monday morning, chain and traction laws were in effect for Coal Bank, Molas, Red Mountain and Wolf Creek passes.
At the Durango-La Plata County Airport, several arriving and departing flights were delayed, according to the airport’s website. Airport director Tony Vicari said crews are doing a good job keeping the runway open.
At Fort Lewis College, the “front hill” leading to Fort Lewis College on East Eighth Avenue was closed because of deteriorating road conditions. Drivers are asked to use Goeglein Gulch Road.
Avalanche danger in the San Juan Mountains was considered “considerable,” which ranks a “3” on a scale of 5.
The Colorado Avalanche information Center reported that two backcountry skiers died Saturday in an avalanche near Crested Butte.
Crested Butte Search and Rescue sent a team to the avalanche site, in Brush Creek, at 9,400 feet elevation. According to Mike Cooperstein of CAIC, the team discovered tracks into the avalanche debris, but none leading out. The team detected faint beacon signals in the area, but called off the search after midnight because of the dangerous conditions.
On Sunday, six Crested Butte Search and Rescue members were airlifted to the scene by helicopter. Another team of five or six – including members of CAIC, the Crested Butte Avalanche Center and Crested Butte Mountain Resort ski patrollers.
The air transport team quickly located the bodies of the two men as beacon signals were transmitting. By 3 p.m., the bodies had been transported to the helicopter landing zone at Brush Creek. They were identified as 27-year-old Owen Green, 27, and Michael Goerne, 37.
The storm is expected to leave the region by Tuesday night, and the NWS said Wednesday is expected to be partly sunny in Montezuma County, with a chance for overnight snowfall.
Another storm is expected to blow into the region Thursday, but the weather service said it is too early to forecast snow totals.
Jonathan Romero of The Durango herald contributed to this article.