While skiers and snowboarders welcomed a new layer of snow overnight Wednesday, drivers traveling over Interstate 70 Thursday morning weren’t as enthusiastic.
Weather-related accidents closed I-70 west at Vail Pass mile marker 186 from about 10:30 to 11:20 a.m. At about the same time, the Colorado Department of Transportation closed eastbound I-70 near the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnel and Highway 6 at Loveland Pass due to multiple accidents on both roadways. They were both reopened at about 1:30 p.m., said CDOT spokeswoman Mindy Crane.
Crane warned drivers that winter road conditions, including icy patches, were expected to continue along I-70 into the night.
“I believe the majority of our problems today are caused by people not having the right tires,” said Colorado State Patrol corporal Philip Gurley, who was on scene near the Eisenhower/Johnson tunnels on Thursday. “It’s amazing the difference snow tires make.”
About 4 to 8 inches of snow fell over a 24-hour period from Wednesday to Thursday in the high mountains, and about 2 to 4 inches in lower valleys, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Kalina. On-and-off snow on Thursday was expected to bring in about another 1 to 3 inches to the High Country.
Forecasters expect another dusting of snow to fall on Summit County over the weekend, before drying out for the week through Thanksgiving, Kalina said.
Summit County, and the rest of the state, are seeing slightly above-average snowfall so far this season, said Nolan Doesken, state climatologist for the Colorado Climate Center.
“We are off to a pretty good start — but it’s so early in the season,” Doesken said. “Things went dry for part of November, but we had another round last weekend of snow and are seeing another round right now.”
Historically in the High Country, snow patterns tend to be spotty until mid to late November, Doesken said,
“Then, once you hit right around the 21st of November, a jetstream around the mountains starts to crank into winter mode that turns into more frequent winter storms and less stagnant weather patterns,” he said.
Although winter weather patterns seem to be on track so far, Doesken said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s seasonal forecast is “no preference.”
“Which means all things are possible.”