Snow and rain expected through weekend in southwestern Colorado – The Durango Herald

The meteorologist says the best chance for snow is probably Wednesday through Thursday

A snowplow moves snow off US 550 near Coal Bank Pass Tuesday during recent storms. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Southwestern Colorado residents expecting warmer spring temperatures may want to keep their winter jackets a little longer, as more snow is expected later in the week.

Another atmospheric river is passing through southwestern Colorado and brings snow mainly to the higher elevations.

Storms earlier this week increased Durango’s snow total by 1 to 3 inches, said Scott Stearns, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Grand Junction.

Cortez received about the same amount while Pagosa Springs received a little more at 5 to 8 inches. Wolf Creek Pass received 24 inches from Sunday through noon Tuesday.

The Coal Bank and Molas passes were expected to receive around 15 inches through Tuesday, while Purgatory Resort reported 16 inches as of Monday morning.

The US Highway 550 mountain corridor north of Durango was expected to close at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday with no estimated reopening date as a result of adverse weather conditions. Northbound travelers will find a locked gate just north of Purgatory near Cascade Creek and southbound travelers will find a locked gate near Ouray.

US 160 freeway east of Pagosa Springs over Wolf Creek Pass was expected to close at 6 a.m. Wednesday with no estimated time for reopening. Eastbound traffic will stop near Treasure Falls and westbound traffic will stop just west of Wolf Creek Ski Area near the top of the mountain pass.

Stearns said snow is likely Wednesday through Thursday morning depending on elevation with the potential for more precipitation over the weekend.

“In regards specifically to Durango, it appears that for the most part, because of the warm air associated with this system at lower elevations, there won’t be as much (snow),” he said.

Cars follow two Colorado Department of Transportation snowplows Tuesday near Purgatory Resort on US Highway 550 as snow falls on the mountains. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Durango is likely to receive another 1 to 3 inches from scattered storms this week, and Cortez may receive slightly less.

Coal Bank and Molas Passes could receive 1-2 feet of snow through Thursday morning, while Wolf Creek Pass could receive up to 3 feet.

Temperatures have been lower than normal for this time of year. Stearns said that while temperatures may be rising, they will still be below average for this time of year and more moisture is expected in the near future.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the average March high temperature for Durango is 53 degrees. The forecast calls for continued highs in the low 40s and Stearns said there could be more moisture in the area next Wednesday.

“Temperatures have been lagging for quite some time and that will continue the unsteady pattern,” Stearns said.

Durango’s seven-day forecast shows a 50% chance of precipitation on Friday with a small chance of more snow or rain on Saturday afternoon. The forecast indicates that Cortez will have a similar weather pattern over the weekend.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center rates the avalanche hazard for the San Juan National Forest as “substantial,” meaning that natural avalanches are possible and human-induced avalanches are likely.

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