Sudden, short storm troubles traffic
December 26, 2003
The interstate near Dotsero closed for more than an hour early Friday after multiple car crashes occurred during the short snowstorm that swept through the valley.
No injuries were reported in the accidents by sudden white-out conditions and snowy, icy weather that slicked the roads, said Colorado state troopers.
High winds made travel hazardous in some areas, though the heavily populated Front Range was not affected.
The Highway Patrol blamed slick roads for a multiple-car accident that shut down part of Interstate 70 east of Glenwood Springs for more than an hour. No injuries were immediately reported.
“”It’s rather putrid weather,” National Weather Service forecaster Joe Ramey said from his Grand Junction office.
The westbound lanes of Interstate 70 were closed for a while, said Sue Garrett, a dispatcher for the Colorado State Patrol. One lane opened to traffic in the early afternoon after the damaged cars were moved off to the side, Garrett said.
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Vail also experienced a series of wrecks because of the sudden snowstorm.
Although nobody was seriously injured in those accidents, some people were transported to the Vail Valley Medical Center, where they were treated and released, said Sgt. Mark Allen of the Vail Police Department.
“People are just driving too fast,” Allen said. “It was mess around here for a while, but luckily no one was seriously hurt.”
But, Allen said, it was hard to say how many accidents occurred because of the “chaos.”
The on-ramps in Vail were closed briefly, and exit 176 was closed for a while because of minor accidents and traffic, he said.
“Traffic was so congested from East Vail,” he said. “The East Vail traffic was backed up to the main Vail exit. It was my call to close the roads but it was to ease the congestion and to free up East Vail.”
Traffic became congested after a pick-up truck carrying a horse trailer slid through the main Vail roundabout and twisted around, he said.
“That really messed us up for a while,” Allen said.
Most of the accidents were a result of driving too close to other cars and too fast, he said.
“There were some rear-end accidents and hit and runs today, and all the accidents were because of that storm,” Allen said.
The hour-long storm breezed through the valley and headed north, putting Vail on accident alert for most of the day.
The state transportation department issued driving restrictions for some mountain passes, but roads were generally passable. The weather service left in place a winter storm warning covering much of the Western Slope.
Nearly a foot of snow is expected west of the Continental Divide by the time the storm is passes through and forecasters predicted another storm early next week, with even more snow to follow by next weekend.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.