**STORM UPDATE, Friday, Dec 7 1:45 p.m.**
With at least 30 inches of snow on the ground in less than 24 hours and more snow forecasted, Gunnison County officials are asking residents to take precautions. According to the NOAA Grand Junction office, the winter storm watch is set to expire on Saturday at 6 p.m.
As of Friday, December 7 at noon, the Colorado State Patrol had shut down Highway 50 between Mayfield and Sargeants (Monarch Pass) and closed Highway 114 from its intersection with Highway 50 to Saguache. Officials said they were hopeful the roads would reopen on Friday. According to the Colorado State Patrol, Highway 135 is not set for scheduled closure—although that could change as weather conditions fluctuate. For current conditions on the local roadways, log on to www.dot.state.co.us.
NOAA meteorologist Jim Daniels says NOAA is forecasting between 6 to 12 inches more snow in the West Elks on Friday night and 3 to 6 inches Saturday, with snow showers becoming lighter throughout the day. Wind is anticipated to be steady from the southwest between 10-15 mph and gusting to 35 to 40 mph.
Crested Butte town manager Susan Parker said the town has not declared a state of emergency but she urged residents to take precautions.
As of Friday, December 7 at noon, Parker said the town is only plowing Elk and Whiterock avenues until midnight. Parker requests that residents try not to park on those streets because they’re being used as emergency access and for Mountain Express busses. After midnight, plow drivers will start working on residential streets.
Parker says the town may experience an electricity outage at some point during the storm, because of the heavy nature of the falling snow. Parker says residents should prepare by keeping plenty of nonperishable goods, candles, flashlights and other supplies on hand.
Mt. Crested Butte police officer Jeff Ewert reminds residents that there is no parking on residential streets in Mt. Crested Butte. “Any cars left will be towed,” he says. There is also a chain restriction on any vehicles 10,000 lbs or greater.
With an epic ski day predicted for Saturday and the Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s Ski-Free promotion continuing, Ewert says the police department is urging drivers with two-wheel vehicles to have chains or stud tires to eliminate back-ups on Gothic Road between Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte.
Finally, Parker requests residents to be patient as the town recovers from the massive storm. “It’s going to take some time to dig out,” she says.