Colorado, Summit County see large snow totals from Winter Storm Echo
February 4, 2016
Winter Storm Echo passed through Colorado, bringing varied amounts of snowfall throughout the state beginning Monday night and continuing through Tuesday.
Todd Dankers, National Weather Service meteorologist, said officials are reporting about 10 inches of snow along the I-25 corridor.
"Winter Storm Echo has resonated strongest along the Front Range and southeast Colorado," he said.
Most ski resorts in Summit County have received under a foot of snow from the system, Dankers said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, both Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort are reporting 9 inches of fresh powder since Monday night. Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Loveland Ski Area have seen about 8 inches, with Copper Mountain Resort totaling about 5 inches.
Potential avalanche conditions closed Berthoud Pass on Tuesday, according to Mike Cooperstein, Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster.
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"There has been enough snow to produce avalanche conditions up there," Dankers said.
CDOT issued a press release announcing the closure of US 40 Berthoud Pass and has no estimates on reopening the road.
Although CDOT cameras indicated no traffic delays on I-70 near Copper Mountain, Colorado State Patrol spokesperson Nate Reid said troopers have been responding to numerous weather-related incidents.
"We are dealing with plenty of crashes and slide offs in all areas of the state," Reid said. "To this point no fatalities have been reported."
LEAVE THE DRIVING TO US
Jim Andrew, Summit Stage transit director, said overall road conditions were decent, but he was caught in a one-hour traffic jam on Route 9 driving from Blue River to Breckenridge.
"It looked like a pretty bad head on collision," he said. "The bus from Blue River was about 30 minutes late getting back to Breck."
Despite the one traffic-related delay, he said the transit system, which starts operating at 5:30 a.m., had a generally smooth service day.
"If we haven't had any delays with the bus system, that's a good indicator," he said. "Buses really handle pretty well in these conditions."
Andrews praised the efforts of Summit County Road and Bridge to keep local roadways passable. He also noted that bus service runs every 30 minutes throughout the day and goes until 1:30 a.m.
"It's a good way to get out and about and leave the car at home," he said.
After witnessing a road mishap earlier today, Andrew hopes other drivers take note.
"The lesson there is everyone needs to take it easy," he said.
NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS
Dankers said Summit County will see snow continue falling though Tuesday night into Wednesday afternoon.
"It's a typical day for you guys up there," he said.
High winds are making it tough to see much of anything in the plains of northeast Colorado.
"There is more wind out there," he said. "Blowing snow is causing poor visibility."
With winds between 25 and 30 mph, Dankers said the Colorado plains are close to blizzard conditions.
"Once winds go above 35 mph, it whips up loose snow and gets categorized as blizzard," he noted.
While admitting the storm was making for a less than pleasant day, he said higher winds would make the situation that much worse.
"When you get that 35 mph, the wind chill makes it colder," he said. "At 25 mph, the wind chill is not as extreme."
Before passing through the area on Tuesday, Winter Storm Echo had already left its mark in Utah, California and Oregon.
The Sierra Nevadas and the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest saw significant precipitation over the weekend. Although the Salt Lake City International Airport reported 9.3 inches of snow, other metro areas around Salt Lake saw up to 22 inches from the storm.
"There was snow as far south as Tucson, Arizona," Dankers said. "Not much accumulation but it did snow."
Other areas in Arizona were impacted heavier, with Flagstaff getting over a half foot of the white stuff.
"Flagstaff picked up a pretty good shot of snow," he said.
As the storm continued to head northeast on Tuesday, Wyoming closed major portions of two state highways. I-25 from Casper to Douglas and about a 250-mile stretch of I-80 was closed as crews worked to ensure safe roadways.
With elevation increasing from 5,500 to 8,000 feet in just a few miles, Dankers said the geography of the Front Range helped account for increased accumulation.
"The foothills are getting the heaviest amounts due to a surface low," he said. "It's a classic up slope set up which favors the foothills."
Despite a number of smaller storms passing through the Front Range in the early going this winter, Dankers said this is the first double-digit snow totals of the season.
"It's the first big shot of snow on the Front Range," he said.
The storm is continuing a slow and steady path across the Rockies.
"It's not racing away, but is also not stalling," he said.