Snow has been falling in Silverton and the San Juan Mountains for seven days now in what the National Weather Service is calling an “epic” storm.
And forecasters say it isn’t over yet.
Chris Landry, director of the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies in Silverton, said the worst may be yet to come.
“It’s going to end with a bang — maybe,” Landry said on Wednesday, Dec. 22. He said it appears that another big blast of snow is on the way. “Of this whole storm, we may get more snow tonight than in any other period.
“It will keep going through Thursday (Dec. 23),” Landry said. “This storm has had a long duration. That’s the really notable thing.”
Silverton Mountain ski area reports it has 68 inches of new snow.
And at Coal Bank Pass, some 60 inches has fallen since Saturday, according to the Silverton-based Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
“The hose has been turned on over Molas and Coal Bank passes,” said Susan Hale, forecaster for the CAIC.
Hale said that most of the snow appears concentrated south of Red Mountain Pass.
Early Tuesday morning, Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado Avalanche Information Center crews triggered the first avalanche of the day on Coal Bank Pass, bringing down the whole path and covering the highway with a pile 6-feet high and 300 feet long.
CAIC avalanche forecaster Mark Gober said that on Tuesday, avalanche control efforts brought down slides that covered 1,750 feet of U.S. 550 on Coal Bank and Molas passes, and another 725 feet on Red Mountain Pass.
“It was nothing super deep, but it was consistent,” Gober said.
Hale said that after the avalanche control efforts Tuesday the hazard dropped significantly.
“We took care of most of it yesterday,” Hale said on Wednesday. But she agreed with Landry that the storm isn’t done yet.
“We’re looking at another two days, probably, of measurable snow,” Hale said. “It could trigger another mitigation tomorrow morning. Mother Nature’s going to have to decide that.”
Red Mountain Pass, 12 inches in last 24 hours; 44.5 inches total in the storm.
Molas Pass, 19 inches in the last 24 hours, 41 inches total in the storm.
Coal Bank Pass, 22 inches in the last 24 hours, 48 inches total in the storm.