Herald Staff Report
Some mountain passes in the Southwest Colorado reopened Wednesday afternoon as the latest winter storm moved through the region.
Lisa Schwantes, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation, said in a news release issued Wednesday afternoon that:
U.S. Highway 160 at Wolf Creek Pass reopened at 10:30 a.m.U.S. Highway 550 at Coal Bank and Molas passes reopened at 12:50 p.m.Colorado Highway 145 at Lizard Head Pass remained closed Wednesday afternoon.A winter storm warning is in effect until 12:01 a.m. Thursday for the high country of the San Juan Mountains, including the towns of Silverton, Hesperus and Rico.
Up to a foot of snow is expected to fall Wednesday at elevations above 9,000 feet. The National Weather Service in Grand Junction said areas above 12,000 feet may receive more than 2 feet of snow.
The heaviest snow was expected to fall Wednesday morning.
Snow accumulations of 5 to 10 inches are expected at lower elevations, according to CDOT.
Elsewhere in southern Colorado, U.S. Highway 160 at La Veta Pass is closed and Colorado Highway 17 is closed at La Manga and Cumbres pass.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center issued an avalanche warning for the southern San Juan Mountains, as backcountry travel becomes dangerous. The center advised backcountry users to avoid crossing or traveling below avalanche terrain and other steep slopes.
“Natural and human-triggered avalanches are very likely,” the CAIC said. “They could break hundreds or thousands of feet wide and run to valley floors. Avalanches are impacting lower elevations and locations that have not seen avalanche activity in recent years. A potent storm with wet, heavy snow and strong shifting winds will keep avalanche conditions dangerous.”
La Plata Electric Association reported about 1,100 houses in Archuleta County lost power at losing about 5 a.m. because of damage to a utility pole. Power was cut to the entire circuit, which impacted the town of Pagosa Springs, for approximately 1½ hours. Power was restored to all customers by mid-morning.
LPEA also reported many areas had “the blinks,” caused as melting snow, rain and wind caused wires to bounce and interact with each other or nearby objects, which caused occasional momentary outages. Numerous short term outages as a result of this wet weather occurred throughout the day in both La Plata and Archuleta counties.
The “blink” outages steadily declined through Wednesday afternoon.
As of Wednesday afternoon, LPEA was reporting six separate outages impacting fewer than 50 total consumer-members across LPEA’s service territory in La Plata and Archuleta counties.