Winter weather returned to Southwest Colorado on Tuesday morning, bringing heavy, wet snow to the Cortez area.
Montezuma-Cortez, Dolores and mancos schools canceled classes on Tuesday. All three districts had announced two-hour delays early Tuesday morning, but began announcing cancellations after 7 a.m.
Durango and Bayfield school districts also canceled classes Tuesday.
Snowfall is expected to increase through Tuesday, with up to 18 inches falling in the mountains, and a winter storm warning is in effect through Tuesday for the mountains, including the towns of Telluride, Rico, Silverton and Crested Butte.
Chain laws were in effect Monday morning on U.S. Highway 160 at Wolf Creek Pass, U.S. Highway 550 at Coal Bank and Molas and Red Mountain passes.
Julie Malingowski, a meteorologist for the weather service office in Grand Junction, said precipitation is expected to gradually pick up into the afternoon and spread to lower elevations.
On Monday in Montezuma County, there’s a 70 percent chance of rain and snow in the afternoon and snowfall through the night.
On Tuesday, 3-6 inches of snow is expected about 6,000 feet in the Cortez area. Overnight low temperatures on Tuesday are expected to fall to about 13 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Sunny skies are expected to return Wednesday through Sunday, with high temperatures reaching the upper 40s by the end of the week.
Durango could get 4-8 inches of snow from the storm.
In the high country, Malingowski said estimates show that nearly 2 feet of snow could fall.
“It looks pretty dang good up there,” she said.