Dangerously low temperatures to roll through Northwest Colorado | CraigDailyPress.com

Dangerously low temperatures to roll through Northwest Colorado

— The storm that brought large amounts of snow to Northwest Colorado is clearing the area as an arctic cold front moves in from the north brings dangerously low temperatures.

"We've never had this much snow at one time really," said Craig Fire/Rescue Battalion Chief Troy Hampton. "Yesterday we probably ended up with 20 inches, I'm sure, and today, probably another eight inches or so. It's pretty unusual to get this much snow at one time."

The heavy snow has created travel hazards and resulted in two accidents between Colorado Department of Transportation plows and vehicles.

"One of those plows was hit on Highway 13 about 4 a.m. Thursday near mile marker 43," said Tracy Trulove media contact for CDOT Region 3. "The vehicle crossed the center lane hitting the plow head-on. The driver in the vehicle was trying to pass trucks parked alongside of the road. Both drivers were taken to the hospital with unknown injuries. Also, Wednesday afternoon, a first responder vehicles hit in Eagle County."

CDOT reminds drivers to slow down and move over for first responders.

Highways in the region are open but highways will remain "icy and snow-packed."

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Craig Fire/Rescue also wants to keep people safe.

"The biggest thing is just getting people to slow down. That's going be the biggest issue right now is the speed," Hampton said.

Winter weather brings frigid temperatures and then more snow

A cold front has moved into the area, shifting the snow to the northern and central mountains, said Megan Stackhouse, meteorologist and forecaster for the National Weather Association in Grand Junction.

"You could see more flurries through the day, but snow is winding down," she said.

The snowfall will be replaced with freezing conditions. On Thursday night, the low temperature is to hit minus 28 degrees, and the high on Friday will be only 8 degrees. Temperatures may feel even colder due to wind chill.

"It's going to be really chilly with expected winds up to 10 miles in the Craig area and between 15 to 20 miles at higher elevations," Stackhouse said.

The freezing conditions Thursday are expected to continue Friday and Saturday.

City and county grapple with snow removal, safe roads

County and city road crews have been working hard to clear roads and lay down sand and salt to help keep roads safe.

The county has 1,400 miles of roads to maintain in the winter with each employee responsible for about 117 lane miles, said Moffat County Road Department Director Dan Miller.

"We have doubled up on a couple routes to catch up with it and are starting to get ahead of the game now," Miller said.

A fleet of 16 motor graders, three sand trucks and two pickups are in service of the county.

The county's first priority is to remove snow along school buss routes then primary and finally secondary roads.

After large storms, "some of the secondary roads are two and three days out," Miller said.

As roads are cleared, operations shift to hauling snow.

On Tuesday, throughout the city of Craig, officers responded to nearly 20 motorists in need of assistance; most needed help getting pulled out of snow drifts or out of driveways blocked by windrows.

"There's no way we could plow every driveway in town," said City Road and Bridge Department Director Randy Call. "If we pick up the blade we leave snow all over the street and we have to go back and re-plow it."

To avoid having to repeatedly shovel the berm left by city plows, "don't start before we finish then shovel it side to side instead of back out into the street," Call said, asking that people try to move vehicles off of the street.

Between snowstorms, the city switches from plowing to sanding.

"We will do more sanding and less plowing. We use river sand and mix a few three-eighths-inch recycled chips for traction and staying ability," Call said. "We put that at all the intersections and steep hills where people have problems with traction."

They will also begin to clean up and haul away piles of snow.

"We will start cleaning up piles at the corners on street corners," Call said.

City, county and the state all ask for patience.

"The guys are working hard and doing their best," Miller said.

Private snow plowers enjoying extra work, money

Some Craig companies have welcomed the snow and the money earned for residential and commercial snow removal work.

"It's been crazy busy. The phones have not stopped ringing," said Joanna Hatten of Hatten Enterprises.

Hatten Enterprises serves about 50 residences and roughly 40 commercial properties with a fleet of three skid steers, six plow trucks and a shovel crew of between three to six people.

"The snow is essential for us. This is a big part of our income this time of year," Hatten said.

People who don't take Craig Fire/Rescue’s advice to slow down turn to Hatten Enterprises for help getting unstuck.

"Today it's snow removal and then the tow truck will be busy tomorrow," Hatten said.

Chad Lawton, owner of Little Bear Excavating, uses his fleet of heavy equipment to plow and remove snow from large commercial properties around town including Murdoch's in Craig.

"I'm swamped. This week has been busy," Lawton said. "I already have the equipment so I have been plowing snow for 15 years. It provides something in the wintertime to keep the business going."

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

Keep up with conditions in Craig

• For local weather conditions and recent coverage of Craig weather, visit craigdailypress.com/weather

• For weather information from the National Weather Service, including storm warnings and advisories, visit http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/ Storm spotter reports may be sent to U.S. National Weather Service Grand Junction Colorado’s Facebook page or by calling 970-243-7007.

• The Colorado Department of Transportation provides road conditions, closures and traffic cameras at http://www.cotrip.org. For travel information by phone, call 511 from anywhere in Colorado or dial 303-639-1111.

• Find information about avalanche danger and conditions at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website: http://www.avalanche.state.co.us.