Heavy winter snowfall, heavy impact

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Craig's heaviest snowfall of the season, which began Friday and kept falling into Saturday, had snowplow operators and law enforcement working longer hours to clean roads and attend automobile accidents.

City plows had much of Friday's snowfall cleared by noon and finished the job later that night, said Randy Call, Director of Craig's Road and Bridge and Sanitation Department.

"We plowed extra hard Friday night," he said. "It was really slick for a couple of hours."

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction predicts a clear forecast without snowfall through next Saturday.

A flurry of accidents were reported as a result of this weekend's trickier-than-usual driving conditions, said Cpl. Brian Bagley of the Colorado State Patrol.

"We generally see an increase of accidents in the first snowfall of the year and in the first whopper storm of the year," he said. "People forget how to drive at first, then they retrain their driving skills throughout the winter."

No fatalities were reported, but a number of drivers slid off roads, Bagley said. A collision Friday afternoon near Hayden caused some injuries. Also, a semi-truck slid off the road in Irish Canyon, in the far northwest corner of Moffat County.

Bagley hadn't yet received a total number of accident reports as a result of the snowy weekend weather because patrol officers haven't yet filed them, but he considered the bulk of incidents to be "routine accidents."

But as the snow begins to melt on the roads, Bagley warns motorists to heed icy conditions.

"Without additional snowfall, a little bit of snowmelt makes the roads slick for a while," he cautioned. "It doesn't help until the roads become bare again."

Low visibility and predictions of up to two feet of snow in Steamboat Springs over the weekend cancelled some flights Friday into Yampa Valley Regional Airport, airline officials said.

As of Sunday night, the Steamboat ski resort reported 12 inches of snow at mid-mountain in the last 24 hours.

Despite the Craig area experiencing the most amount of white stuff this winter, Call downplayed the severity of the storm -- at least compared to the snowfall of years past.

"We've seen a lot of storms like that," he said. "In my opinion that wasn't a bad one. We haven't been getting storms like we used to."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or by email at ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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