‘Historic’ and dangerous winter conditions close Summit County’s highways, ski resorts and schools
UPDATE at 8:20 p.m.: The Colorado Department of Transportation confirms that Interstate 70 is now open between Exit 176 – Vail and Exit 201 – Frisco. Commercial vehicle chain laws and passenger vehicle traction laws are in place. CO 91, between Copper Mountain and Leadville, is expected to open within the hour. However, US 6 Loveland Pass remains closed.
UPDATE at 6:47 p.m.: The Colorado Department of Transportation reports that Interstate 70 eastbound and westbound is now open between mile markers 195 and 201 — Copper Mountain and Frisco.
UPDATE at 6:07 p.m.: The Colorado Department of Transportation announced that CO 9 will remain closed over night. The slide that closed the road was 100 yards wide and 15 feet deep. According to CDOT, it was the first recorded avalanche off of Resolute Cliff.
A total of four cars were caught in the avalanche, and there were no injuries.
UPDATE at 4:31 p.m.: CO 91 is currently closed near Copper Mountain due to a massive avalanche. The closure is expected to be a lengthy one.
UPDATE at 4:15 p.m.: Copper Mountain Resort is reporting a power outage that is affecting a majority of Center Village. Copper says there’s no estimated time of restoration, though the following locations at the resort have power: Jack’s, Camp Hale Outfitters, the Conference Center and Copper Station.
UPDATE at 4:12 p.m.: I-70 is now closed between Frisco and Copper Mountain due to safety concerns.
UPDATE at 3:33 p.m.: The Colorado Department of Transportation is anticipating that the current closures on I-70 — westbound from Frisco to Vail and eastbound from Vail to Copper — will remain closed for another hour or two.
CO 91 and US 24 have been reopened, and CDOT is routing all commercial vehicles over CO 91 to US 24.
UPDATE at 2:23 p.m.: Interstate 70 has been reopened between Frisco and Silverthorne, according to CDOT.
I-70 between Copper Mountain and Vail remains closed, as well as westbound I-70 from Exit 205 at Frisco.
UPDATE at 12:57 p.m.: The Colorado Department of Transportation has closed I-70 from Vail to Empire Junction (estimated to reopen in two-to-four hours), along with CO 91 from Copper to Leadville (estimated one-to-two hours), and CO 24 at Battle Mountain due to avalanche risk.
Additionally, CDOT expects Loveland Pass to remain closed for the next 24-to-48 hours due to avalanche risk.
UPDATE at 12:52 p.m.: Westbound I-70 has been closed at Exit 201 at Frisco due to safety concerns, according to CDOT.
UPDATE at 12:38 p.m.: The Colorado Department of Transportation has reopened I-70 between Silverthorne and Empire Junction following avalanche control and safety efforts. Passenger vehicle traction laws are currently in effect on the road between Silverthorne and Georgetown.
UPDATE 12:03 p.m.: According to Bryan Webinger, manager of the Copper Mountain Consolidated Metropolitan District, the gas danger has been mitigated from the avalanche near Copper Mountain. The slide ran between the wastewater treatment plant and the Conoco gas-station complex. There is not an impact to water and sanitation customers or Copper Mountain Resort. However, there is still concern of the potential for another avalanche behind the plant.
Webinger said the district is working with Copper Resort, Xcel Energy, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center to address the avalanche dangers and to get the gas restored to the treatment plant and Conoco. The organizations ask that people avoid the slide area.
UPDATE at 11:10 a.m.: St. Anthony Summit Medical Center has sent out a press release advising residents and visitors that the hospital, located at 340 Peak One Drive in Frisco, remains open and fully operational for emergency medical care. For anyone not close to the hospital in Frisco, and for whom emergency care isn’t required, St. Anthony’s walk-in urgent and emergency care clinics at the base of Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort are open. The hospital’s Copper Mountain clinic will open shortly. As always, if you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.
UPDATE at 10:25 a.m.: I-70 between Vail and Copper Mountain is expected to be closed for another five hours due to a pair of slides that impacted the road earlier this morning.`
Tracy Trulove, a spokeswoman with CDOT, said that I-70 between Silverthorne and Empire Junction has also been closed as the department begins avalanche mitigation efforts on two slide paths near the Eisenhower Tunnel. The closure could mean substantial delays.
Additionally, US 24 is closed between Leadville and Minturn due to adverse conditions.
UPDATE 9:50 a.m.: Highway 91 and I-70 between Frisco and Copper Mountain is now open. The resort remains closed at this time.
Extreme weather conditions in Summit County this morning have caused multiple highway and road closures, power outages and avalanches, with heavy snow expected to continue throughout the day.
An avalanche near the Conoco in Copper Mountain ruptured a natural-gas line early this morning. According to Summit Fire & EMS, the avalanche struck at about 5 a.m., hitting the gas pipeline between Conoco and the water-treatment plant. Xcel crews are working now to shut off the gas and anticipate having the leak resolved soon. Until then, the highways around the scene remain closed. No injuries have been reported, and no evacuations of the ski resort are in place. Copper Mountain Resort has announced a delayed opening this morning.
Interstate 70 is currently closed between Frisco and Vail. Summit Stage buses on most routes are experiencing major weather-related delays. Check Summit Stage App for bus locations & ETAs.
Summit County School District announced all Summit schools are closed today due to winter weather and staff and student safety.
Xcel Energy reports power outages in Breckenridge, with no estimated time of return. There was a temporary outage in Frisco this morning, but power is now back on in the area.
I-70 is closed in both directions over Vail Pass due to extreme weather conditions and an avalanche. Anticipate the closure to remain in place until mid-morning. Avalanche crews are on scene and will be mitigating the hazards.
Colorado 91 is also closed between Leadville and Copper. US 24 is still open but you will not be able to access CO 91.
Dillon Dam Road and US 6 Loveland Pass are closed due to adverse conditions. The Colorado Department of Transportation states there is no estimated reopen time for any of these highways. Mountain travel in these areas is highly discouraged at this time.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has declared “historic” avalanche conditions, raising avalanche danger levels to “Extreme” (5 out of 5) for four different backcountry zones for the first time since it started using the ten zone forecasting system. The CAIC has warned everyone to stay out of avalanche terrain, as every single inch of it is now considered hazardous. Avalanche Warnings are in place for the Front Range, Steamboat and Flat Tops, Vail and Summit County, Sawatch, Aspen, Gunnison, Grand Mesa, and San Juan Mountains.
“CAIC is saying extreme avalanche conditions,” said Charles Pitman, spokesman with Summit Rescue Group. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before. Natural avalanches are going to start coming down everywhere.”
The National Weather Service has issued winter weather warnings and winter weather advisories for most mountain areas today through 5 p.m. Thursday. CDOT reports all mountain areas, including the I-70 mountain corridor, are expecting heavy snow at times with accumulations 10-24 inches possible, with winds gusting up to 55 mph. Expect traffic delays, chain and traction laws.
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