Weather Winter Hits the High Mountain Passes
Most high country residents are used to traveling in adverse weather conditions, however, anytime two out of the three main roadways in and out of Lake County are shut down, folks get a little nervous. Such was the case yesterday morning as Highway 24 (north) and Highway 91 were simultaneously closed, for about an hour, albeit for different reasons: a rock slide and avalanche control.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) closed Highway 24 west of Minturn due to a rock slide on Saturday, Dec. 27 at 6:45 p.m. The situation is located at mile marker 148-149, an area already susceptible to rock slides. In fact, travelers contended with the same situation last Earth Day, April 22: READ STORY.
As of this morning, the road is still closed, forcing daily Leadville commuters to the Vail Valley and Eagle County to take Highway 91 and then head west on I-70 over Vail Pass. NOTE: Skiers can get to Ski Cooper from Leadville, the rock slide is way down on Highway 24, past Battle Mountain and Red Cliff.
On Sunday, Dec. 28 CDOT posted this update on their Facebook Page regarding the rock slide: Crews were able to capture this image of the US 24 rockslide near Minturn earlier tonight. Due to road damage, US 24 will remain closed until our specialty units are able to evaluate the damage and stability of the slope where the slide occurred. For updates please visit www.cotrip.org.
However, Sunday night reports indicate that the CDOT team of geologists are finding travel conditions to the high country challenging. That could delay their analysis of the situation and safety concerns, pushing the re-opening of the highway into the New Year.
Highway 91 Closed Yesterday for Avalanche Control
As all of that activity was going on near Battle Mountain Pass, reports started to come in from Leadville Today readers on Sunday morning that Highway 91 was closed due to an avalanche. Eventually, it was established that CDOT had closed the roadway to conduct some avalanche control up around Fremont Pass.
According to the Colorado State Patrol Communication Officer the entire process didn’t take more than an hour, initiated at 8:38 a.m., with traffic back open at 9:13 a.m. Conditions on Highway 91, were icy and snow-packed at best all day, with low visibility at the top of Fremont Pass and the Stork Curve below.
Leadville local Christy Lindh was one of the motorists caught in those conditions, headed north on Highway 91. Ice and snow-packed road conditions contributed to Lindh’s car going off the road, tumbling several times down the embankment and landing nearly right in the headwaters of the frozen Arkansas River. Fortunately, Lindh was able to walk away from the accident with only some soreness; her vehicle didn’t fair so well.
So as the calendar slowly rolls from 2014 to 2015 this week, there are several more snow storms forecasted to roll in with the change of year. Stay tuned to cotrip.org for the latest road conditions and you can always plug-in to the local conversation over at the Leadville Today Facebook Page or on Twitter @LeadvilleToday.