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Brief storm developing, expect winter driving conditions with up to 6 inches of snow in region

A bit of winter weather returns, and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) maintenance crews are ready.

In the San Luis Valley, motorists should expect snowfall amounts of 4”-8″ at Monarch Pass (U.S. 50) and 3”-6″ at Wolf Creek Pass (U.S. 160) and Cumbres/La Manga Pass (S.H. 17) in the next 36 hours, according to forecasters with Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

“There is a lot of moisture, but the system passes by quickly, which will limit the snow totals,” Mellick reports. “Strong westerly winds continue into Friday, which could make for some whiteout conditions tomorrow.”

Mellick expects another pulse of moisture on Saturday night, and light snow on and off through the weekend. A high-pressure ridge pushes into Colorado early next week and things will dry through Wednesday.

During any given storm, at least half of CDOT’s crew members will be out at one time, working 24/7 until the storm subsides and roadways and shoulders are cleared.

The Colorado State Patrol (CSP) is hopeful that motorists will prep their vehicles, know the conditions and drive slowly. “Even when mountain passes are well plowed, there are going to be icy spots and often blowing and drifting snow,” CSP Captain George Dingfelder said. “One of the biggest issues is that people are driving entirely too fast for the conditions.”

Dingfelder also mentions the need to watch for wildlife crossing the highway, which can be particularly hazardous to motorists traveling on snow-packed roads through blowing snow.

“The key is to be on the lookout for wildlife crossing and slow down if you can, but don’t swerve to miss an animal—you could put yourself or other motorists in more danger.”

This story was posted on January 9, 2014.