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Massive storm slams Vail, shuts down driving as slides threaten local roads

January 15, 2024, 11:21 am

It’s dumping big time at Vail on MLK Day: 24 inches in the last two days, 3 feet in the last week.

But that’s literally wreaking havoc on local roads. As I write this at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Vail Pass is closed indefinitely for avalanche mitigation. Highway 6 and 24 through Minturn was shut down by a slide. And Berthoud Pass between Denver and Winter Park was closed overnight due to slide danger. All of this is subject to ongoing change, so check out the Colorado Department of Transportation website.

And if the slide danger is this high on the roads, the backcountry is going to be beyond sketchy, which translates to deadly. Go to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website for the latest.

Skiing Vail on Sunday was interesting to say the least (and amazing in terms of deep, untrammeled powder turns on runs like Wow, Head Wall and Genghis Khan). Blue Sky Basin was closed all day (I guess for avy mitigation), Chair 21 in China Bowl shut down due to a mechanical, and therefore Tea Cup lift was the only way out of the far back side.

The powers that be at Vail, allegedly to avoid another snow-pocalypse social media bomb of photos showing massive holiday lift lines, briefly shut down Sun Up and Sun Down bowls. It just took us one lap on Chair 7 in Game Creek before they reopened, but still, closing down the Legendary Back Bowls during an epic snow cycle … for reasons other than snow safety? That has to be a first.

I have to admit, though, it worked. Like the Eisenhower Tunnel, I guess, when they do safety delays to avoid people idling in the tunnel, the back side then was basically lift-line free until that Chair 21 mechanical. I haven’t hit the hill yet on Monday, but I hear even lower lifts like Centennial at Beaver Creek are shuttered due to high winds.

Crazy to go from below average snow of around 100 inches on the season to more than 150 inches for the season in just a little over a week.

And forecasters are calling for more snow later this week.

“We have measured 1-3 FEET of snow from Saturday night to Monday morning,” Opensnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote Monday morning. “Sunday was a deep powder day, and there will be more snow on Monday before this storm moves away from Colorado. Tuesday will be dry and partly sunny, then the next storm should bring 2-12 inches to the northern mountains from Wednesday to Thursday. After that, our next chance for snow will be around January 21-24.”

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is the editor and co-founder of RealVail.com and has had his awarding-winning work (see About Us) published in more than 75 newspapers and magazines around the world, including 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), the Anchorage Daily Press (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Boulder Daily Camera, the Casper Star Tribune (Wyoming), the Chicago Tribune, Colorado Central Magazine, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Newsline, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Cortez Journal, the Craig Daily Press, the Curry Coastal Pilot (Oregon), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Del Norte Triplicate (California), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, Explore Big Sky (Mont.), the Fort Morgan Times (Colorado), the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), the Kingman Daily Miner (Arizona), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the Las Vegas Sun, the Leadville Herald-Democrat, the London Daily Mirror, the Moab Times Independent (Utah), the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), the Montrose Daily Press, The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, the Rio Blanco Herald Times (Colorado), Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), the Salt Lake Tribune, SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Sky-Hi News, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the Sterling Journal Advocate (Colorado), the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Health Magazine, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail, Westword (Denver), Writers on the Range and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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