Hunters evacuated in national forest

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The Moffat County Sheriff's Office and Moffat County Search and Rescue evacuated hunters from Routt National Forest on Friday after a snowstorm caught them off guard, 9News.com reported.

Between 12 and 18 inches have fallen in the area, according to the Web site.

The rescue workers are using Snowcats to reach campsites, and 10 people had been removed from the area by 8:30 p.m. Friday and taken to lower elevations, the site reported.

Workers had reached 15 to 20 campsites by the time the story was posted, at 9:21 p.m. Friday.

The spokesman from the Sheriff's Office was unavailable for comment Friday night.

Snowy weather and several accidents Friday also forced the temporary closure of eastbound Interstate 70 at Vail Pass.

"Conditions are deteriorating rapidly," said Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman Paul Peterson.

The highway, Colorado's main east-west route across the state, was icy, snowpacked and visibility was hampered by gusty winds and falling snow, Peterson said. It reponened late Friday as up to five CDOT snowplows traveled up and down the pass clearing snow and dropping sand to improve traction, said CDOT spokesman Fritz Homann.

Numerous vehicles were stranded on the side of the road.

The storm system moving into the state was expected to bring up to 18 inches of snow on several passes by this weekend, including Rabbit Ears near Steamboat Springs, Berthoud Pass near Winter Park and Loveland above Georgetown, as well as Vail Pass.

-- The Associated Press

contributed to this report.

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