US 550 north of Durango is closed due to multiple slides on the highway and increased avalanche danger, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) said Saturday.
The closure incudes all three mountain passes: Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain.
The 42-mile closure begins just north of Purgatory Ski Resort at Cascade Creek and continues to the Town of Ouray.
US 550 will remain closed overnight "due to adverse weather and avalanche concerns," a CDOT official said on Twitter early Saturday afternoon.
“Overnight snowfall exceeded the high end of the forecast with heavy snow continuing at this time,” said Ann Mellick, forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). “Snowfall rates have reached more than 2 inches per hour. This intense rate has triggered widespread avalanching along the US 550 corridor.”
Avalanche control operations are expected to take place on US 550 later Saturday if weather and visibility improves.
In a span of four days, Red Mountain Pass has seen a total of 25.5-inches of snow accumulation; Molas Pass has seen about 20-inches and Coal Bank Pass has seen a total of 18-inches.