Mountains

Cold spell hits region

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Bundled up for the cold, Larry Copeland clears snow at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds.

By Michael Maresh Journal staff writer

Bundled with layers of clothing, thick gloves and heavy winter gear to ward off the cold, Larry Copeland was still shivering a little as he removed snow at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds Thursday morning.

Copeland is one of many people whose job requires them to be outside even when temperatures dip below zero degrees. Mail carriers, road and maintenance departments and landfill workers are just a few of the professions that require employees to work outside in freezing temperatures.

Copeland has been on snow removal duty since snow started falling pretty consistency.

Copeland was wearing a regular jacket on top of a sweatshirt, a long sleeve shirt and a T-shirt on Thursday morning as he shoveled snow at the fairgrounds.

He also wore a scarf for his neck, gloves for his hands and a hat for his head.

While low temperatures have been close to minus 10 the last few days, Copeland just accepts it as a winter reality.

In fact, Copeland said he begins the day at 5 a.m. to tend to his cows before heading for work at about 8 a.m.

Temperatures at 8 a.m. Thursday were between minus 8 and 10 degrees. Temperatures climbed to around 25 in the afternoon.

The below-zero temperatures continued Friday morning with a wind chill temperature at minus 10 degrees.

Last night temperatures bottomed out at minus 1 after reaching 22 degrees during the day, and today's temperatures will be about the same.

Relief from the bitter cold could be about a week away, the National Weather Service is reporting.

On Sunday, temperatures are expected to range from 34 in the day and down to 9 degrees at night, while Monday's temperatures are forecast to be between 11 and 37 degrees.

On Tuesday the low temperature is expected to be about 13 degrees.

Joe Ramey from the National Weather Service pointed to the snow on the ground as one reason why temperatures have been so low and will continue to be so until later next week.

"What we are having right now is the Christmas Eve snow that put us in a deep freeze," Ramey said.

The average high for Cortez for this time of year is 40 degrees, he said.

The NWS forecaster said the cold air is trapped on the valley floor, and that weather is warmer at higher elevations like the San Juan Mountains.

Copeland said the colder temperatures this year seem a little bit harsher than last year.

"I don't know if you can get acclimated to the weather," he said.

Copeland also said the job of removing snow is to make sure the fairgrounds remain open and accessible to the public in the winter months.

Although the forecast calls for cold temperatures, no snow is expected in the near future.

michaelm@cortezjournal.com

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