Craig sees snow pile up to start new year as storm brings 18 inches
More cold weather expected later this week as Arctic system brings more precipitation
January 3, 2017
Craig — The snowstorm blasting Northwest Colorado has brought accumulations of 18 inches or more to the Craig area.
"We are transitioning into a really wet period this week with a strong jet stream and Pacific moisture coming directly across to Colorado. The conditions are just right with instability providing octane for making good snow," said Dennis Phillips, a meteorologist in the Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service.
Instability in the atmosphere creates bands of snowfall resulting in irregular accumulations across the region.
About 16 inches of snow was reported in Baggs, Wyoming, while north of Rangely, out near Dinosaur, accumulations measured less than a half -inch, said Phillips.
In comparison Meeker received only a trace amount of snow while throughout Craig reports have varied from 11 inches to over 18 inches of accumulated snow, said Phillips.
The sudden, large accumulations of snow create challenges for driving and snow removal efforts.
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"We have it under control and will keep traffic moving," said City of Craig Road and Bridge Director Randy Call.
The city is responsible for snow removal from 52 miles of roads within the city limits. Moffat County takes care of county roads and the Colorado Department of Transportation removes snow from highways including Victory Way, Fourth Street and Yampa Avenue, Call said.
"The thing people can do that would really help us out is to get vehicles out of the street. That is one of the biggest hindrances," Call said. "Shoveling the snow side to side and not out into the street would help us out. There is an ordinance that prohibits plowing snow back out into the streets."
The workday started at 2 a.m. for many members of the Moffat County Road and Bridge Department, despite the option for members of the department to take the day off in order to attend services for Darrell Snow who was accidentally killed in December while working on snow removal for the county.
"We've got three trucks and a motor-grader working in the town of Craig," said Colorado Department of Transportation's Tracey Trulove.
City, county and state services prioritize opening main roads first such as the roads to the hospital and schools, Call said.
And Moffat County School District institutions were back in session after winter break.
"Student safety is always our highest priority," wrote Superintendent Dave Ulrich in an email. "During a storm, I monitor the weather constantly."
Transportation and building safety are paramount in decisions about school closures.
"I am in consistent communication with the Director of Transportation and the Director of Maintenance to ensure our students are being transported safely to and from school and the buildings are safe to conduct classes," wrote Ulrich in the email. "The district communicates with city and county officials regarding road conditions."
More snow is on the way as the storm is expected to linger throughout the week.
"A system on the tail end of this storm will be a big snow maker on Thursday," said Phillips.
A change in the jet stream is forecast for the end of the week and over the weekend as an Arctic system is expected to bring freezing conditions from the north to the region on Friday, said Phillips.
As snow continues to pile up over the next few days residents and snow removal professionals will all face the challenge of where to put all that snow.
"Until the storm breaks we won't be geared up to haul snow," Call said. "We only have some property where we can haul snow and do not have any to offer the public at this time. If that changes we will put the word out. We are all in this together."