A winter storm is bringing heavy snow to the high country of Southwest Colorado as expected, with travel restrictions already in place for the mountain passes around Durango.
On Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain passes, a chain and traction law is in effect, which requires commercial vehicles to have chains or alternative traction devices. This also applies to buses and vans.
Passenger vehicles are required to have snow or mud/tires, chains/alternative traction devices or four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicles.
On Wolf Creek Pass on U.S. Highway 160 east, a chain law is in effect that requires chains or alternative-traction devices for all commercial vehicles, including buses.
No oversize loads are allowed to cross the pass between Pagosa Springs and South Fork.
"We are not anticipating the need for any avalanche control work," said Vance Kelso, Colorado Department of Transportation maintenance supervisor for the U.S. Highway 550 mountain corridor. "The mitigation efforts we performed over the last couple of weeks are providing us a nice margin of safety now."
According to the National Weather Service, a winter weather advisory is in effect until 6 p.m. Thursday, which includes the towns of Hesperus, Rico and Silverton.
During that time, wind gusts may reach up to 35 mph, causing blowing snow and difficult travel conditions.
"This storm is dropping snow that is very light and fluffy - not a lot of water content," Kelso said. "Our southern pass, Coal Bank, is getting hit the hardest, with 10 inches at the summit so far. Red Mountain has only received about 4 inches."
In Durango, snow showers are likely to continue sporadically throughout the day, with total daytime snow accumulations expected to be less than one inch, the NWS says.
The storm is expected to continue on and off Friday night and exit the region by Saturday morning.
As of 7:45 a.m., the NWS says Coal Bank and Molas passes received around 10 inches of snow. A SNOTEL station near Vallecito Reservoir is reporting 2.5 inches of new snow.