NEWS Powerful winter storm hits Eagle County, causing road accidents and canceling World Cup games in Beaver Creek

Powerful winter storm hits Eagle County, causing road accidents and canceling World Cup games in Beaver Creek
31 crashes were reported to the Colorado State Patrol during the winter storm before 4 p.m. Friday
John LaCompte/Vair Daily

A powerful winter storm wreaked havoc on Eagle County roads and canceled Friday’s men’s race at Beaver Creek’s proud Birds of Prey racetrack. The Downhill World Cup while local skiers and riders bask in the powder that continues to pile up at local resorts.

The Colorado State Patrol in Eagle County received 31 reports of incidents between 5 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Mark Wentworth, director of Vail’s Center for Public Safety Communications, said nearly all of the crashes were minor, with only one resulting in a road closure.An accident involving a semi-trailer truck closed westbound Interstate 70 around 11:30 a.m., and the road was cleared by 1 p.m.

The State Patrol issued an accident alert at 1:30 p.m. in response to the high accident rate. This means that, in situations where no one is injured and drugs and alcohol are not involved, officers do not respond in person, but instead instruct drivers to fill out off-site or online accident reports.

“For these minor bumps, bent fenders, etc., we just have them fill out a report because we don’t want our rescue crews on the road in these situations,” Wentworth said.

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In addition to frequent slips and collisions, traffic on I-70 eastbound on I-70 was at a standstill for most of the morning because of safety concerns when Vail Pass was closed beginning at 9 a.m. A few hours later, the interstate opened.

The storm brought an average of 5-10 inches of snow to the valley, with Vail Mountain snow piles reporting nearly a foot of powder on its slopes. The heavy precipitation was accompanied by strong winds, with the National Weather Service reporting gusts of up to 60 mph on the peaks and 45 mph in the valleys.

Snow piles at Vail Mountain reported nearly a foot of powder on its slopes Friday afternoon.
John LaCompte/Vair Daily

The situation led to the Raptors organizing committee canceling Friday’s men’s downhill race scheduled for 10:15 a.m. and closing the track and finish area for the remainder of the day while crews worked to restore the track for the weekend ready for the game.Saturday’s rappelling and Sunday’s super-G will continue as planned at 10:00 a.m.

All of this rapid early winter activity increases the avalanche risk in the region. The latest report from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center shows that the White River National Forest currently has an avalanche hazard rating of 3 out of 5 for terrain near and above the treeline, indicating considerable danger in backcountry areas.

There are currently no avalanche warnings for the area – as do other areas on the west slope, such as the Park Range and Flat Tops – but the center has warned that a major avalanche is a risk under current conditions.

“The high winds associated with this storm will continue to form thick sheets on top of November’s patchy old snow,” the center wrote on Dec. 1. You can expect avalanches to come from below and from afar. trigger. “

Looking ahead, Friday’s storm is only the first of three systems expected to hit the county in the coming days. OpenSnow Meteorologist Sam Collentine wrote in his forecast that a smaller storm is expected Saturday afternoon with 1-4 inches of snow expected, followed by a dry day on Sunday before the next big system. Strikes on Monday.

“Sunday may be our only completely dry day in a very long time as we are in between storms,” ​​Collentine wrote in his weekend forecast. “Then, we’ll be tracking a stronger storm early next week as a healthy amount of moisture and a small, very heavy snowfall falls over Colorado … that’s a really good pattern, we’re Should expect more terrain openings in the next 5-10 days.”

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