Colorado: Spring storm packs a punch

Resorts reporting powder conditions, but road conditions could hamper access, while the backcountry avalanche danger soars

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An active northern jet stream is bringing cold air and moisture to the northern tier of states, including Colorado. On and off snow is possible through the weekend.
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The CAIC is reporting numerous backcountry avalanches. Click here for more photos.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — March is living up to its reputation as the snowiest month in the Colorado high country, with chilly spring storm snarling roads, intensifying avalanche danger and adding much-needed moisture to the state’s snowpack.

Ski areas around the state are generally reporting up to 12 inches of new snow in the past few days, and moderate to heavy snow continued falling Saturday morning. Some of the heaviest totals are expected east of the Continental Divide, where the California Department of Transportation reported bumper-to-bumper traffic around I-70 and C-470.

East of Denver, I-70 was closed to the Kansas border, and slick conditions on the westbound approach to the mountains prompted CDOT to require chains, snow tires or four-wheel drive for all vehicles in Mt. Vernon Canyon, just west of Denver.

State avalanche experts are warning of significant avalanche danger in the backcountry mountains. A special avalanche statement highlights the danger of large and destructive human-triggered slides around Steamboat, Vail and Summit counties, The Sawatch Range, The Front Range, and the Aspen  area.

Forecasters with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center reported that numerous large natural and triggered slides have run around Vail Pass, the Eisenhower Tunnel and several other locations.

High temperatures the next few days will struggle to get above freezing, and lows Saturday night will drop close to record levels, possibly dipping below zero in some of the coldest locations.

But the skiing is going to be as good as it’s been all season.

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