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Winter storm results in avalanches, closures in Colorado's high country

A 'snowbank slide' has closed HWY 24 near Leadville
Posted at 3:46 PM, Mar 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-09 02:44:51-05

DENVER -- Colorado's central mountains saw even more accumulation as a new band of snow moved into the high country Friday.

Strong winds combined with snow created whiteout conditions on mountain highways, prompting off and on closures on I-70 and other highways due to spun-out vehicles and crashes.

A Passenger Vehicle Traction Law was in place in parts of I-70 and other highways as of Friday night. The traction law requires motorists to have snow tires, tires with mud/snow (M/S) designation, or a four-wheel-drive vehicle. All tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch tread.

MORE | CDOT Travel Alerts

Conditions are also ripe for avalanches and several slides have already been reported Friday, including what the Colorado State Patrol described in a tweet was a large avalanche covering both lanes of Highway 24 between Minturn and Leadville, prompting the closure of the highway. CSP later downgraded the event to a "snowbank slide." There were no victims or vehicles trapped in the slide.

Earlier in the day, an avalanche struck the expert-rated trail off the Imperial Express SuperChair of Breckenridge Resort. However, there were no injuries or victims were reported in that slide.

RELATED | Breckenridge ski run hit by avalanche

Multiple avalanches throughout the week have shut down ski areas and hampered mountain travel as the massive slides pour onto highways, trapping vehicles. There have been at least five avalanches reported in Colorado Friday and 232 since March 1, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

A Winter Storm Warning for the Northern and Central mountains starting at 2 p.m. Friday through 6 a.m. Saturday, per the National Weather Service in Boulder. A High Wind Warning is also in effect for the Front Range starting at midnight and ending at noon on Saturday.

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Below you can find a replay of Friday's updates on weather and traffic conditions, along with photos and videos of the storm as it moved through the mountains Friday.

9:38 p.m.: The CSP downgraded the HWY 24 event to a “snowbank slide,” not an actual avalanche. There were no vehicles trapped or victims in the slide. HWY 24 between Minturn and Leadville remains closed.

7:56 p.m.: The Colorado State Patrol is reporting a large avalanche has covered both lanes of Highway 24 between Minturn and Leadville, forcing crews to close the highway. It's not clear if any vehicles are trapped in the slide, but CSP says emergency crews are responding.

7:46 p.m.: CDOT has reopened Vail Pass after an hours-long closure following a multi-vehicle crash in the westbound lanes. However, they are cautioning drivers to take it slow as current weather conditions in Summit and Eagle Counties have made visibility limited.

5:52 p.m.: A live look at traffic conditions on I-70 at Vail Pass:

5:24 p.m.: A safety closure has been implemented on both directions of I-70 at Vail Pass following a multi-vehicle crash in the westbound lanes, per the Colorado State Patrol - Eagle division.

4:55 p.m.: Road conditions in East San Miguel County are deteriorating, the San Miguel County Sheriff's Office says. Please drive with caution and expect possible delays in the area.

4:53 p.m.: Aspen Mountain patrol will be setting off charges for avalanche mitigation. The Pitkin County Sheriff's Office asks that you take precautions with any humans or pets sensitive to loud noise.

4:46 p.m.: The latest on weather conditions coming I-25 Urban Corridor from the National Weather Service:

4:29 p.m.: A multi-vehicle crash has closed all westbound lanes of I-70 at Vail Pass. There's no estimated time on when it will reopen. Here's a live view of traffic conditions in the area:

4:23 p.m.: WB I-70 is closed at mile post 189 due to a multi-car crash, CSP Eagle officials say.

3:40 p.m.: Statement from Breckenridge Ski Resort regarding a reported avalanche on Friday afternoon.

3:20 p.m.: The latest on the heavy snow moving to the central and northern mountains from the National Weather Service.

3:07 p.m.: An avalanche at Breckenridge Resort has been reported by Summit County Search and Rescue officials. We've got more on that here. This marks the sixth reported avalanche in Colorado on Friday.

2:56 p.m.: There have been at least five reported avalanches throughout the state Friday, according to officials with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). From March 1 through March 8, there have been a total of 232 avalanches reported in Colorado, CAIC officials said.

2:44 p.m.: Arapahoe Basin said it would not reopen Friday after a large slide was triggered on the Widowmaker, depositing a significant amount of snow and timber on Highway 6. The ski resort plans to open Saturday.