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Avalanche warnings in effect for Colorado mountains; heavy snow expected through Friday

Travel not advised Friday in the high country
Posted at 6:51 AM, Feb 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-08 01:51:14-05

DENVER – After some heavy banded snow Thursday night in Denver and parts of the Front Range – and even heavier snow in the high country – much of northern Colorado should still expect a few more inches on Friday, and traffic is expected to be snarled in the mountains.

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Some parts of the Denver metro area saw a quick 4 to 7 inches Thursday night into Friday morning, and some parts of the high country had already seen a foot of snow by late Thursday night.

More bands of snow are expected to develop Friday morning and afternoon along the northern I-25 corridor, but the National Weather Service says snow totals and the location of the bands are still variable. Another 2 to 5 inches of additional snow is possible through late Friday. Winter weather advisories are in effect for most of the I-25 corridor.

Thursday night’s bands produced 1 to 2 inches of snow an hour, and the NWS says if the bands develop again Friday as expected, similar rates are possible.

Winter storm warnings remain in effect for the mountains, where strong winds and heavy snow could create white-out conditions and make travel “difficult to impossible,” the NWS said.

Additional accumulations of 8 to 18 inches are expected in much of the higher northern and central mountains, with winds gusting up to 65 miles per hour. At lower mountain elevations, another 4 to 6 inches of snow are expected, with winds gusting up to 35 miles per hour. Below is a look at how much more snow we could see between 6 a.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Saturday:

There are avalanche warnings in effect in the Steamboat and Flat Tops, Front Range, Vail and Summit County, Gunnison, Aspen and Sawatch zones, and the NWS said the avalanches will be “large enough to bury and kill a person.”

Avalanche danger is “high” in the Steamboat and Flat Tops, Front Range and Vail and Summit County zones, and “considerable” in the Gunnison, Aspen and Sawatch zones.

CDOT is expected to perform avalanche mitigation throughout the morning along I-70 in the mountains, on U.S. 40, and along the mountain passes – most of which were closed early Friday. And westbound I-70 was shut down between Golden and the Eisenhower Tunnel just before 11 a.m. because of poor conditions.

If you’re headed to the high country Friday, think hard about it before you go and be sure you and your vehicle are prepared for long stops on the road, with low temperatures, heavy snow and high winds.

Here are the highway closures as of 7:30 a.m., per CDOT:

As predicted, there are CLOSURES due to EXTENSIVE AVALANCHE CONTROL work this morning, likely from Georgetown through Vail Pass. CDOT recommends avoiding traveling on I-70 today. US 6 Loveland Pass remains closed. Passenger vehicle traction laws are in effect for these nearby highways:
US 24 Eastbound / Westbound Battle Mountain (Milemarker 148-154)
US 24 Westbound / Eastbound US 24 (Milemarker 278-286)
US 50 Westbound / Eastbound Monarch Pass (Milemarker 210-190)
US 285 Southbound / Northbound Fairplay -C-470 (Milemarker 183-250)
CO 9 Southbound / Northbound Hoosier Pass (Milemarker 73-86)
CO 67 Southbound / Northbound cripple creek (Milemarker 51-69)
CO 91 Southbound / Northbound Fremont Pass (Milemarker 0-22)
US 40 Eastbound Rabbit Ears Pass (Milemarker 136-154)

Stay with the Denver7 weather team and for the latest updates.