Snow day in Eagle County: Schools close as spring storm smacks the valley

Storm drops nearly a foot of snow in the upper valley

Skiers and boarders rejoice as heavy snow falls on a spring powder day Tuesday in Beaver Creek. Snow came down heavy throughout a majority of the day.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The calendar flipped to spring more than three weeks ago, but apparently nobody told winter. At least that appeared to be the case Tuesday as a strong storm walloped Eagle County, dropping nearly a foot of snow in the upper valley that closed local public schools and created havoc on local roads.

It was the first snow day for Eagle County Schools in more than two years. The last came Feb. 7, 2020.

Driveways are cleared after snow fell Tuesday in Edwards. The precipitation started as rain before turning to snow, which made the consistency heavy.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

District officials made the call to close the schools a little later than they normally do. In an emailed statement, Matt Miano, the district’s chief communications officer, explained that members of the district leadership team meet with the director of transportation at 5 a.m. on mornings when heavy snow is expected to discuss current road conditions and storm expectations and then decide whether a cancellation of school is warranted.

Trees are coated with new snow Tuesday in Avon. Being wet snow, it covered a majority of the surfaces.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

But, as Miano wrote, “today’s storm moved in after 5 a.m. and left us to make a later decision than would have normally been the case. Obviously we prefer to provide our staff, students and families as much notice as possible but feel we made the decision that was in the best interest of the (Eagle County Schools) community even if it did come later than expected.”

That scenario matches snowfall totals, going off Vail’s mid-mountain snow stake. The stake showed 2 new inches of new snow at 5 a.m., and after being cleared, 9 more inches of snow accumulated throughout the day.

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A winter scene Tuesday in Beaver Creek. Areas picked up close to a foot of snow in the storm.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The district, in an email to parents and students, said schedules will return to normal on Wednesday unless otherwise notified.

For lucky locals, especially students who could get out on the mountain, it was powder heaven.

That is, if you weren’t stuck on Interstate 70, which was shut down in multiple sections between 8 and 10 a.m. to clear accidents near mile marker 167 near Avon and at mile marker 147 near Eagle. The interstate in the eastbound direction over Vail Pass also closed for about an hour Tuesday morning before reopening around 9:30 a.m. Another safety closure on the pass was announced around 5:40 p.m. Tuesday.

Winds blow snow off trees Tuesday in EagleVail. The winds picked up as the day went on, causing blowing snow and whiteout conditions at times.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Calling snow days seems to be more common in recent years, even in Lake County. That district hadn’t declared a snow day in more than 100 years of operation. But Lake County School District Superintendent Bethany Massey emailed that the district has declared snow days occasionally in the past several years.

Colorado Mountain College Vail Valley at Edwards delayed its opening until noon.

Brodie Bancker, 3, of Edwards helps shovel fresh snow Tuesday in Edwards. The storm dropped around a foot of snow in the upper valley.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

The Vail Recreation District also announced via email that all of its facilities were closed Tuesday, which included its after-school programming and pickleball at Red Sandstone Elementary School.

Mountain Recreation as of 10 a.m. had canceled only its gymnastics programs at local schools. The district’s facilities in Gypsum, Eagle and Edwards remained open.

While the snow was heavy in Eagle and points east, roads were clear throughout the valley later in the day as the clouds parted. That lighter snowfall meant operations were normal at the Eagle County Regional Airport. In an email, Eagle County Aviation Director David Reid wrote there had been no flight cancellations or delays through about 11 a.m.

Scott Miller contributed reporting.

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