Silverton gets buried by ‘Pineapple Express’ |

Silverton gets buried by ‘Pineapple Express’

Allen Best

SILVERTON – Silverton and other towns of the San Juan Mountains are still digging out after a storm, called the Pineapple Express, that left up to 15 feet of snow in some areas.More than 100 avalanches hit the highway that connects Durango, Silverton and Ouray during the storm cycle. While any respectable storm can trigger more than 20 slides, veteran avalanche forecaster Jerry Roberts told The Denver Post that the wetness of the recent snow made it exceptional. The avalanches that ran in some areas took out trees that were 75 to 100 years old.”If you weren’t nervous, you weren’t paying attention,” said another avalanche forecaster, Mark Rikkers,”One of the funny things a person will notice after spending some time in Silverton is that folks around here tend to talk about avalanche paths almost as if they are people,” noted The Silverton Standard’s Jonathon Thompson.Indeed, avalanches do get personal. In the past, avalanches have shut off Silverton to the point that people were running out of toilet paper. This time, it was just three days, but more unusual were the avalanches that simultaneously closed Wolf Creek and Lizard Head passes, isolating Durango from the rest of Colorado.However, perhaps most hammered was the Silverton Mountain Ski Area, which reported 12 feet of snow in 15 days. Avalanches kept the county road between Silverton and the ski area closed for six days and also knocked out the electricity line. A couple of backup generators were imported to operate the ski area’s sole lift, but one of those generators ended up in a creek. At last report, the ski area was expecting to open after 10 days of down time.In Silverton, people were hard-pressed to keep up with the falling snow. A town law mandates that cars not be parked on the town’s main street between the hours of 2 a.m. and 7 a.m., causing some residents to question where they were supposed to park. Town trustees offered little sympathy and no reprieves.”I have six vehicles, and it took an hour and a half for me to dig one out this morning so I could get to work,” said Mayor Jim Huffman while the storm was still belting the town. “That’s living in Silverton.”

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