Snow, snow and more snow
Ryan Summerlin February 11, 2014
While skiers have rejoiced in the recent snowstorm that brought almost 2 feet of snow to some areas of Grand County, people in charge of removing that snow from roads and public places are beginning to run out of spots to put it.
In Fraser, the areas where the town stores snow are beginning to “burst at the seams,” according to Allen Nordin, public works director for the municipality. The town is now working to move the snow to bulk storage areas farther away from the town.
Brian Burden, who operates a small snow-removal business out of Granby, says business is booming right now, though he wouldn’t mind having some time to get caught up on moving the piles of snow.
While Burden says “everyone is making money right now,” he also said he wouldn’t mind a break from the early mornings and 10-hour days he has been working due to the recent snowstorm.
Ken Haynes, road and bridge supervisor for Grand County, reported that while his plow drivers are getting the job done, they are running into a few problems with residents leaving trash cans out after their trash has been picked up and shoveling snow out into the street and onto their neighbors’ property.
According to Haynes, when residents plow snow into the roadway, the County’s plow drivers have to push that snow back onto their property. “The bad thing about us pushing it back onto your property is we don’t know what is there,” he said. Snow can cover up flower planters or lawn ornaments, which end up getting damaged when the snow is pushed back.
“But for the most part everybody’s doing pretty dang good,” he said.
Avalanches stall traffic
The Colorado Department of Transportation has also been battling the snow from the storm. The department has had to close the pass three times recently due to avalanches, both intentionally triggered and naturally triggered.
On the other side of the pass, skiers were locked in traffic for hours on I-70 as powder chasers tried to get a piece of the action in the high country.
Some travelers were caught in traffic for more than 3 hours on I-70, according to CDOT spokeswoman Tracy Trulove.
CDOT released the Stanley Slide Path on Sunday, which ran 2,400 feet to the ground and was 1,500 feet wide, though that was only the beginning of avalanche problems on Berthoud Pass.
The size of the Stanley Slide Path on Sunday was impressive, especially because CDOT had already released the path once this year, said Brian Lazar, deputy director for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
Two other avalanches occurred on Berthoud Pass early Monday morning, Feb. 10, while CDOT was working to clear snow. The natural slides closed the pass from 2:30 a.m. until around 10:30 a.m. The first avalanche took place at mile marker 237 and covered the road with about 10 feet of snow, according to Trulove. The second avalanche took place at mile marker 240 and covered the road with around 4 feet of snow.
Berthoud Pass was also closed Tuesday morning, Feb. 11, for avalanche mitigation as CDOT worked to clear the road after the Aspen Slide Path released and covered the roadway with 12 to 15 feet of snow. CDOT had the road reopened after a couple of hours of work, Trulove said.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center issued an avalanche warning for the Front Range Zone, which includes Berthoud Pass and the Winter Park and Fraser area, on Monday at 6 a.m., expiring on Tuesday at noon.
While the avalanche warning has expired, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center left the avalanche danger at high (level 4) for areas above treeline for the Front Range Zone and reduced the avalanche danger to considerable (level 3) near treeline and below treeline.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is expecting a dry period during the middle of this week though is expecting another storm system to move through the area during the end of the week and continuing into the weekend.
The National Weather Service is predicting much the same activity as the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and is also predicting an increase in temperatures for the weekend to as high as 40 degrees.
While the movers of the snow will appreciate the break in the weather on Tuesday and Wednesday, Winter Park Resort is rejoicing in the recent snowfall and looking forward to more snow over the weekend.
So far for the month of February, the resort has received 38.5 inches of snow, which is 15 inches ahead of the average snowfall for this time of the month, according to Steven Hurlbert, communications and public relations manager for the resort.
“It’s been terrific and people are really enjoying it,” he said.
“You’ll never hear us complaining about too much snow,” Hurlbert said. “If it snowed every day, it still probably wouldn’t be enough.”
And folks at Ski Granby Ranch also appreciated the 19 inches that resort received. “It was super busy this weekend in the midst of all of the snow dumping,” said Amy Buzhardt, sales coordinator for Ski Granby Ranch.
Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334