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Colorado is PSYCHED


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LeeW et al, we wanna see pics !

DENVER -- A potent winter storm quickly dumped up to 18 inches of snow in the Colorado mountains before moving into the populous Front Range on Thursday, closing interstate highways, forcing dozens of school districts to shut down and canceling flights.

"We had no snow last night and we've got about 14 inches now," said Terry Shaw, manager of the Sunmart gas station in the mountain town of Georgetown, about 30 miles west of Denver. "It's still snowing hard right now."

The westbound lanes of Interstate 70 were shut down at Evergreen Parkway due to adverse conditions. Eastbound lanes were shut down at Hidden Valley, approaching Floyd Hill. Westbound lanes were closed at Georgetown after a rock slide that injured a snow plow driver with the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The rock slide was reported after 7:30 a.m. at Silver Plume and the snow plow driver's truck was struck by a large boulder.

Loveland Pass was also closed due to adverse driving conditions, as well as Kenosha Pass on Highway 285 south of Bailey.

South of Denver, snow was falling extremely heavy, with up to a foot now reported from Monument and Castle Rock to Colorado Springs.

At 9:40 a.m., Interstate 25 was closed between Academy Blvd. in Colorado Springs and Castle Rock exits.

North of Denver, roads are tough going between Denver and Loveland. Up to three inches of snow has also been reported in Greeley.

Many schools in the mountains and foothills canceled classes or set late start times.

Up to 80 outbound flights were canceled Thursday at Denver International Airport, mostly on United Airlines, the airport's busiest carrier. United, Frontier and Southwest airlines all reported delays of up to an hour and 25 minutes

"We expect it to be slow going through mid-afternoon," Southwest spokeswoman Paula Berg said.

To check flights in and out of DIA, visit www.flydenver.com.

Pena Blvd., the main route to DIA had gusty winds which caused visibility problems. Travelers were advised to use caution traveling to and front the airport so they can avoid "Pena Collidas."

Just before 3:30 a.m., rain turned over to snow in downtown Denver, and a slushy mix began rapidly piling up on parked cars and other other elevated surfaces. Click this link for seven radar views of Colorado.

In the immediate downtown area, much of the snow was melting. In the southern and western suburbs, snow is piling up. Reports of significant accumulations are coming in from the mountains, with 16 inches measured by a 7NEWS viewer in Fraser.

The National Weather Service will continue all advisories and warnings in place across Colorado, including a winter storm warning for Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Castle Rock, Conifer and Evergreen, through noon.

In addition to the snow, gusty north winds will cause blowing and drifting, with near white-out conditions possible, especially over Monument Hill and on the Palmer Divide south of Denver.

City and state road crews were out maintaining the roads for commuters. Michael Contreras with the Denver Department of Public Works said he had more than 60 trucks and crews standing by.

Colorado Department of Transportation officials said trucks statewide, including 100 in the Denver area, packing sand and deicer were ready to roll to help keep traffic flowing for the morning commute, said CDOT spokesman Mark Aultman.

Snow totals will vary across the Denver area, ranging from 3 to 6 inches on the north side of town, with 6 to 12 inches likely across the southern and western suburbs. There will be a very pronounced rain and snow line east of the Interstate 25 corridor, with mostly rain expected from Greeley to Limon and points eastward.

Meanwhile, avalanche experts said recent storms have left a snowpack of up to 2 feet in the mountains and several avalanches have already been reported, including 10 in the past week on he east side of Ten Mile Range in Summit County.

"We've been finding a few things that are worth watching as the snowpack builds," said Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster Scott Toepfer. A recent snowfall did not bond well with the snow surface from a late-September storm, creating ripe conditions for avalanches.

The center usually begins issuing regular avalanche forecasts in November.

Out east, Red Cross officials sent supplies to the plains' town of Byers in case predicted winds of up to 45 mph created whiteout conditions on the 150-mile flat stretch of Interstate 70 to the Kansas state line and forced the main east-west route's closure.

"After (Hurricane) Katrina, you think differently about everything," said Robert Thompson, spokesman for the Red Cross. "I think we all learned good lessons from that. Whether it really hits hard or whether it blows over, come on, this is Colorado. Who knows? But we're ready to go."

A trailer with cots, blankets, water, and snacks was sent to the Byers Fire Station, where the Red Cross set up shelter for travelers stranded by storms in March and November.

Stay with 7NEWS, TheDenverChannel.com and Comcast Digital Cable Channel 247 for the latest. Colorado's most trusted meteorologist, Mike Nelson, and the team of 24/7 Weather Center meteorologists, will keep you ahead of the storm.

Previous Stories:

October 25, 2006: Tricky Forecast Could Bring Blizzard Conditions

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Oh, I thought it was Silverthorne, not Silverplume. RAY! In that case, my suggestion in CO forum still stands, anyways.

Dudes/Dudettes, last night, I was agonizing on whether to go up the mountain or stay in G.J. and leave this morning for my annual snowmaking orientation before we start working at Vail on Nov 1st. Decided to leave at 11 pm. Well, I didnt get to take pictures because it was snowing hard all the way from Debeque (outside of Grand Junction, east bound) to Vail. It wasn't fun, but gladly, I had my tires swapped to studded tires. :) :biggthump

Unfortunely, I forgot my social security card, and I had to drive back to Grand Junction to get it. Well, on the way back, its all back to "summer" mode already with snow melting fast. It's fall time!

Oh yes, dont forget the "fall-back" time change this Saturday.

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Holy s%^t!!!!! I got my new OS2s today, mounted them to my 4807 and snowshoed up Ajax. It was sick!!! Serious patellar pow, at least 18 inches. I was able to make it all the way to the bottom without hitting a single rock. I am in some serious shock, and can't wait to test out the new bindings in a more controlled setting.

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I hiked Berthoud yesterday... Breaking trail was WAIST DEEP... Then caught Loveland Pass just as it opened. Not quite as much as Berthoud but still over knee deep. Made 6 passes of fresh tracks on each run. YEAH

Keystone AND Copper now set to open on the 3rd


Feed the addiction

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loveland claimed 20" or 22" dont' remember, but i'd say there was probably more than that, but not typical super dry snow, kinda wet, but i was up to my waist, and not too crowded in the am, probably because most of the roads were closed.

St. Mary's glacier had easily 2 1/2 to 3ft of new snow. althouhg i was very surprised to find 2 people up there skiing w/out becons or shovels. this storm screamed avalanche danger.

early season is sick, but please, everyone be careful if you're going to venture into the backcountry.

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