Highway officials reported 3 to 5 inches of snow overnight on the roads of Molas and Red Mountain passes around Silverton, said Lisa Schwantes, spokeswoman with the Colorado Department of Transportation. More snow, up to 10 inches, accumulated along the sides of Coal Bank Pass. Purgatory Resort reported 5 inches as of Tuesday morning.
As of 11:45 a.m., all chain laws and passenger vehicle traction laws were lifted on Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain passes.
“They were expecting a whole lot more,” Schwantes said. “They were ready to push a lot of snow, and it just didn’t come.”
Even though snow was light, road conditions were slick Tuesday morning on mountain passes. A white pickup slid off the road about two miles from the summit on the south side of Coal Bank Pass, north of Durango, said Dan Bender, spokesman with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, who was en route at 9:45 a.m. to provide traffic control.
“It’s foggy, wet and slushy – snow on the road,” he said.
Dennis Phillips, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said warmer-than-expected temperatures resulted in more rain and less snow sticking to roads.
La Plata County residents reported sleet-like conditions at about 7,000 feet in elevation, with snow accumulation at higher elevations, including Forest Lakes subdivision. Durango, at 6,512 feet, saw only rain.