The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the Animas River Basin – including Durango, Bayfield and Ignacio – beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday through 11 p.m. Sunday.
“We’re looking at a storm system here that is currently over Utah, and as we go through the course of this afternoon and into the overnight, that system is going to pass pretty much directly over the Four Corners,” said Kris Sanders, a senior meteorologist with the NWS in Grand Junction.
The area may see snow accumulations of 4 to 8 inches. Sanders said accumulations should pick up especially after dark, but the storm should lighten up during the day Sunday.
“I think as people wake up tomorrow, they can expect possibly some tricky travel out there,” he said.
Lisa Schwantes, Southwest Regional Communications manager with the Colorado Department of Transportation, said highways throughout Southwest Colorado were slick, icy and snowpacked Saturday.
CDOT had about 30 snowplows tending to highways and passes across the region, she said.
Wolf Creek Pass is scheduled to close at 6 a.m. Sunday for avalanche mitigation. Eastbound traffic will be stopped at the chain up station at Treasure Falls near mile marker 157. Westbound traffic will be stopped at the top of Wolf Creek Pass near the ski area, near mile marker 167.
Schwantes said that CDOT crews are hoping the closure will last less than an hour, but motorists should expect delays.
“When you’re working with avalanche mitigation, folks just need to realize that we’re dealing with Mother Nature, so just be prepared,” she said. “If you’re trying to get over the pass, I would suggest you make it to the Treasure Falls area before 6 a.m. so you can continue on your way eastbound. If you’re skiing and want to make early runs, you want to head up there before 6 a.m.”
She said people on the highways over the weekend should take their time, slow down and give themselves extra time if they are traveling. She said travelers should always be prepared with an emergency pack with blankets, snacks and water.
Or, better yet, stay home altogether.
“This is a great weekend to stay inside, bundle up, watch some movies, grab some hot chocolate and stay put,” Schwantes said.
After the current storm passes, Southwest Colorado can expect another similar but weaker one on Wednesday, Sanders said.
“We’re kind of stuck in this pattern of storms where we get precipitation for a couple days and get a break for a couple days,” he said.