Wind, snow create white-out conditions in Four Corners

Horses GRAZE in a field northwest of Cortez as snow falls early Wednesday morning. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Horses GRAZE in a field northwest of Cortez as snow falls early Wednesday morning.

A winter storm dumped several inches of snow on the Four Corners area on Wednesday, causing white-out conditions and dropping temperatures to less than 20 degrees.

A winter weather advisory ended at 6 p.m.

City snowplows began clearing main streets in Cortez in the morning, and by 6 p.m., most were dry.

City Manager Shane Hale said the city’s first step in clearing the streets is applying a wet sand and salt solution to serve as an environmentally friendly deicer.

The city’s snow removal priority is Main Street, Mildred Road and Empire Street. Secondary priorities include roadways surrounding schools, followed by the downtown area. Residential areas are last on the list.

“There’s a nuance,” said Hale. “It all depends on the conditions.”

After applying the sand solution at intersections, hills and dangerous places, the city dispatches snowplows using the same priority lists.

A 2008 city mandate requires downtown businesses to clean their sidewalks after a storm. Sidewalks shall be cleaned by noon of the second day after the last measurable snowfall.

Also on Wednesday, Wolf Creek Pass was closed because of adverse conditions and near-zero visibility at 8:15 a.m. It reopened at 1 p.m. Ten inches of new snow had fallen by early morning, said Nancy Shanks, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

CDOT crews were conducting spot closures on Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain passes along U.S. Highway 550 for avalanche control, Shanks said.

Winds reached more than 100 mph on Red Mountain Pass, she said.

Current driving conditions for U.S. 160 and elsewhere around the state, can be found on www.cotrip.org.