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February 21, 2013
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More new snow welcomed

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - A winter storm rolled through Eagle County, leaving several inches of snow in its wake Thursday with more predicted for today.

The National Weather Service predicted 3 inches through Thursday, another inch or so today more Saturday afternoon.

Vail reported 17 inches in the last seven days on Vail Mountain. Breckenridge reported 24 inches over the same period, according to Vail Resorts.

Skiers and snowboarders love it, but it can be a bit problematic for travelers.

Westbound Interstate 70 was closed for about an hour Thursday morning when a tractor-trailer jackknifed into the median near Wolcott.

The Colorado State Patrol got the call at 8:24 a.m., reporting the accident.

An Illinois-based rig was pulling dual trailers was headed west through Eagle County on I-70 when it slid off the road and into the median, said Trooper Josh Lewis with the Colorado State Patrol.

It took an hour to clear away the wreck and reopen the highway, Lewis said.

Size matters

A moderate-sized storm like this one still rallies Department of Transportation crews, said Ashley Mohr, spokesperson for this region.

"The bigger the storm the more resources we have to throw at it. Even if it's a small storm we're still out there with plenty of equipment and personnel to make sure the roads are safe," Mohr said.

When a storm rolls through, Department of Transportation crews go on 12-hour shifts clearing snow from roads and anything else they need to do, Mohr said. Department of Transportation crews work around the clock until a storm is over.

Which leads us to a little etiquette. If you're behind a snowplow and the driver is clearing the road in the left lane, it's a monumentally bad idea to pass on the right.

"If the snowplow is in front of you, that's the best possible road situation," Mohr said.

We're in good hands with this region's Department of Transportation crew. This year's Department of Transportation Executive Director's Cup, an award of excellence, went to Region 3, which encompasses Eagle County and much of Western Colorado.

"Our people dedicate their lives to making the transportation system of Colorado the best it can be," said Region 3 Transportation Director David Eller. "This award is all about the people who plan, program, design, build, maintain, repair, and support what is necessary for our highways to run efficiently and safely on a day-to-day basis."

Snowpack still lags

The snow helps, but Colorado's snowpack still lags behind last year's and well behind the historical average.

Colorado's February snowpack remains at 72 percent of normal and 90 percent of last year's readings, said the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

That has forest watchers looking hopefully at the skies.

Last year's weather pattern was similar to this winter's, but last year the reservoirs and rivers were full because of the previous year's record snow. This year they're not, said Scott Fitzwilliams, White River National Forest supervisor.

"Last year's drought followed three to four years of good water weather. Now we're enduring two dry years in a row," Fitzwilliams said.

Even though it was snowing outside, they remain vigilant about the upcoming wildfire season.

"Even though it's snowing outside, it's never too early to talk about preparedness."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Feb 21, 2013 11:40PM Published Feb 21, 2013 11:36PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.