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Great skiing, terrible driving conditions at Vail, Beaver Creek into next week

By and
March 1, 2019, 6:29 pm
I-70 traffic
Expect more scenes like this over the weekend with heavy snow in the forecast (I-70 Coalition photo)

Editor’s note: An additional foot of snow fell at both Beaver Creek and Vail overnight Saturday into Sunday morning, with a foot and a half of new snow over the entire weekend so far. It was still snowing heavily as of 7 a.m. Sunday, and Vail surpassed 250 inches for the season.

A wet, slick snowstorm coated the Vail Valley on Friday, wreaking havoc on the local roads and kicking off what’s expected to be a week-long snow cycle to usher in the month of March for skiers and snowboarders at Vail and Beaver Creek.

Forecasters are calling for a deep powder day on Sunday, with another storm due midweek and then another by the following weekend.

“For the best powder, snow conditions will get deeper and softer with time, so Saturday should be soft and maybe deep by midday or afternoon, and Sunday morning should be the softest and deepest,” meteorologist Joel Gratz of Opensnow.com wrote Friday. “Looking at next week, expect two storms, one around midweek and another next weekend (March 9-10).”

Unfortunately, fresh snow on the ski slopes often means brutal driving conditions, and on Friday morning that certainly was the case as an off-duty Vail firefighter was seriously injured on Interstate 70 near EagleVail after he got out of his car to help other accident victims and was struck by another vehicle.

Here’s the press release from the town of Vail:

An off-duty Vail fire lieutenant was seriously injured in a multiple vehicle car accident while on his way to start his shift at the fire station on Friday, March 1. The accident occurred at approximately 6:15 a.m. on eastbound I-70 near mile marker 168.

Initial investigation has confirmed the firefighter stopped to provide assistance at the accident scene and was subsequently struck by another vehicle. He was transported to Vail Health and is currently listed in stable condition. The 45-year-old firefighter has been identified as Lt. Scott Bridges. 

In addition to the off-duty firefighter, three other people were transported to the hospital. 

This incident emphasized the importance of slowing down during winter driving conditions. “Too often we see accidents occur because motorists do not slow down during inclement weather,” said Fire Chief Mark Novak.” We are thankful our firefighter was not more seriously injured and we want to recognize his selfless actions in helping others.” 

Responding agencies include Eagle River Fire Protection District, Vail Fire and Emergency Services, Eagle County Paramedic Services, Colorado State Patrol and Vail Public Safety Communication Center. 

The incident remains under investigation.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is also urging motorists to be prepared and to use extreme caution during winter-driving conditions in the mountains. Here’s a press release from CDOT:

CDOT urges motorists to plan ahead and know before you go!

Check cotrip.org before leaving for weekend travel plans

STATEWIDE — Do your weekend plans include hitting the slopes to take advantage of the fresh powder? Or maybe heading to Vail to watch the Snowboarding Championships? Or joining the foodies in the Mile High City to experience Denver Restaurant Week? No matter what your plans, know about road conditions before you head out. Colorado Department of Transportation recommends using cotrip.org for travel planning.

A multi-day winter weather event is expected to impact areas of Colorado throughout the weekend, with moderate to heavy snowfall possible. The I-70 mountain corridor could see 6-12” of new snow through the weekend. Winds are expected, which could create low visibility at times, along with blowing and drifting snow. The storm will also have impacts to the I-25 Front Range including Denver Metro, where accumulations of 1-3” are possible. Additionally, the southwest region of the state may see several inches of snowfall through the weekend and into early next week.  

Reduce the likelihood of closures and conditions impacting your weekend agenda by planning ahead. Before you go, check cotrip.org for up-to-date information on road closures and conditions.  CDOT continues to provide options for getting travel alert information in front of motorists. Recently, CDOT added Twitter “Travel Alerts” to our desktop Facebook page. There are plans to make this information available on mobile devices as well.

CDOT does ask you no longer rely on the Colorado Roads App. CDOT has not supported this old mobile application  in more than three years and is concerned the app does not provide reliable nor up-to-date information. CDOT’s cotrip.org is adaptive to mobile devices and is the most reliable option for conditions and closures. The site also allows users to tap into the statewide roadway camera system and snowplow tracker.

Already on the road? CDOT populates the phone 511 system with current closures and conditions, in addition to providing information to local media. CDOT boasts a statewide system of variable message boards (electronic signs) to get realtime information to drivers. Please do not use a mobile device while operating a vehicle.

Take advantage of the resource that works best for you and don’t be caught off guard by this weekend’s winter driving conditions. Make sure your car is equipped to handle conditions and you have an emergency kit packed.


STAY INFORMED: Road and weather conditions are available by dialing 511, 303-639-1111, or visiting www.cotrip.org. Also available on the COtrip site are:

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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