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US Highway 550 closed over Red Mountain Pass 'until further notice' due to snow

Posted at 5:18 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 19:37:48-05

DENVER – U.S. Highway 550 will be closed over Red Mountain Pass “until further notice” due to treacherous conditions, more than a foot of new snow and an ongoing avalanche warning.

The Colorado Department of Transportation announced the closure of the high-mountain pass in southwest Colorado on Tuesday afternoon.

“High winds, blowing snow, low visibility and high accumulations of snow have made maintenance operations and avalanche mitigation impossible to perform,” CDOT said in a statement. “For safety, maintenance personnel have been forced to vacate the pass.”

With snow in the forecast for the area Tuesday night and again Wednesday afternoon and evening, it was unclear on Tuesday afternoon for how long the pass would remain closed.

CDOT is asking people who do need to travel in the area to use Highway 145 through Telluride.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said plow crews in that area had reported 18 inches of new snow over the pass since Tuesday morning.

An avalanche warning was issued by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center Tuesday for the North San Juan zone, saying that the amount of forecast snow, if it held, would be “enough to tip the scales of a snowpack teetering on the edge of a natural avalanche cycle.”

The CAIC also posted video of a large avalanche in that same zone that happened on Sunday.

For the latest road conditions across the state, click here.