Early morning snow squall impacts Eagle County traffic | VailDaily.com

Early morning snow squall impacts Eagle County traffic

Top wind gust recorded was 62 mph as more snow arrives in the High Country

Thad Hooper of Minturn Mercantile shovels snow from the sidewalk Wednesday in Minturn. The snow and wind came in heavy Wednesday morning.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Lourdes Ferzacca knows the winter driving drill.

Ferzacca, who lives with her family in Eagle, was driving her kids to school Wednesday on a stormy morning. Conditions in Eagle were fine. But everything changed at about Wolcott.

“Wolcott was a whiteout,” Ferzacca said. “It was snowing sideways.”

That morning squall put about an extra hour or so into what’s usually a trip of 20 minutes or so. The Ferzaccas were about 45 minutes late to school, but school was delayed, so the family ended up being right on time.

“I hit it just right,” Mindy Marino said. Marino, who works at Donovan Pavilion in Vail, commutes in from Edwards. She noted that her drive was fine, but she did see at least a couple of cars off the road on her way into work.

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The relatively brief snow squall Wednesday morning forced a safety closure of Interstate 70 over Vail Pass, as well as Colorado Highway 131 north of Wolcott.

The squall — which the National Weather Service first warned of at about 5:30 a.m. — brought strong wind, although not at the velocities seen along the Front Range, where several spots reported gusts of 100 mph or more.

Joe Brgoch with the Eagle River Inn blows snow after a storm rolled in Wednesday in Minturn.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

While there was plenty of wind, the storm didn’t have a big effect on operations at the Eagle County Regional Airport.

Vail Valley Jet Center General Manager Paul Gordon reported that there were extra de-icing operations Wednesday, but “no significant delays” in operations there.

The storm also brought some snow, but not a huge dump.

The on-mountain cameras pointed at the snow stakes on Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek reported roughly 4 and 5 inches of snow, respectively, just before 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Wednesday’s storm is the first of a two bursts of snow expected this week.

Erin Walter, a meteorologist at the Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service, said another storm should come through — without the gale force winds — starting late Thursday and continuing into Friday

Walter said the Park Mountains of Utah are expected to receive much of the snow from that storm. In the Vail area, the forecast is for higher elevations to receive between 2 and 5 inches. The I-70 corridor could see an inch or less, with up to two inches expected on the Vail Pass portion of the highway.

By the numbers

62 mph: Highest Dec. 15 wind gust reported at Dowd Junction.

32 mph: Highest Dec. 15 wind gust reported on Vail Pass.

4 inches: Vail Mountain Dec. 15 snow stake measurement just before 3 p.m.

5 inches: Beaver Creek Dec. 15 snow stake measurement just before 3 p.m.

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