Snow arrived in force Monday in Southwest Colorado, bringing avalanches at Telluride, chain laws on mountain passes, crashes on highways and delays at the Durango-La Plata County Airport.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning that remains in effect until 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Icy roads and high wind conditions led to two crashes just north of Towaoc and a semitrailer crash near Dove Creek on Monday morning.
About 10 a.m., a van from the Prescott First Church of the Nazarene slid off U.S. Highway 160/491 and flipped onto its side. The van’s driver blamed a combination of low visibility and an icy patch of road.
The vehicle was carrying him, his wife and a few teenagers, but all occupants were wearing their seat belts, and no one was injured, he said. A tow truck was on site, and the man said that after being righted they would head back to Cortez. The church is located in Prescott, Arizona.
About the same time, a three-car crash occurred 2 miles south and sent one person to the hospital, according to the Colorado State Patrol.
The crash occurred after a southbound Toyota 4Runner was waiting to turn left into Woody’s Food Store, said Trooper James Proctor.
A red passenger car behind had slowed, but was rear-ended by a black Cadillac Escalade, which pushed the red car into the 4Runner.
A person in the Escalade was transported to Southwest Memorial Hospital, Proctor said. There were no other injuries. All the occupants were wearing seatbelts.
The crash occurred in icy road conditions and shut down one lane, delaying traffic. It is under investigation.
Also, late Monday morning, a semitrailer rolled over on U.S. 491 at mile marker 58 near Dove Creek, Proctor said.
The National Weather Service in Grand Junction issued a winter storm warning that remains in effect until 6 p.m. Tuesday. The winter storm warning includes the San Juan Mountains and 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.
In the high country and around the towns of Silverton, Hesperus, Rico, Telluride, Ouray and Lake City, up to 20 inches were expected before the storm leaves the region on Tuesday.
Avalanche dangerMultiple avalanches released about 9 a.m. Monday on Ajax Mountain at the East End of Telluride, according to the San Miguel Sheriff’s Office. No injuries were reported.
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. A second team included members of CAIC, the Crested Butte Avalanche Center and Crested Butte Mountain Resort ski patrol.
The air transport team found the bodies of the two men by tracking their beacon signals. By 3 p.m., the bodies had been transported to the landing zone at Brush Creek. They were identified as 27-year-old Owen Green, 27, and Michael Goerne, 37. Both were from the Aspen area.
Across the regionAt the Durango-La Plata County Airport, several arriving and departing flights were delayed, according to the airport’s website.
The storm is expected to leave by Tuesday night, and Wednesday is expected to be partly sunny in Montezuma County, with a chance for snow overnight.
Another storm is expected to blow into the region Thursday.
Jim Mimiaga and Erika Alvero of The Journal and Jonathan Romero of The Durango Herald contributed to this article.