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Strong winds, wet snow in forecast for El Paso, Teller counties

March 11, 2014 Updated: March 11, 2014 at 4:45 pm
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photo - Interstate 25 southbound is at a standstill three miles from Monument Hill. (Michael Ciaglo / The Gazette)
Interstate 25 southbound is at a standstill three miles from Monument Hill. (Michael Ciaglo / The Gazette) 

It's winter again - for a day.

Snow began falling along the Front Range after noon Tuesday, as a cold front moved south across Colorado that could bring rain and heavy, wet snow to much of El Paso and Teller counties through the evening, according to the National Weather Service. Snow and icy conditions were to blame for a slew of crashes near Monument Hill, which put traffic at a standstill for more than an hour. Emergency responders cleared at least three separate crashes between mile markers 161 and 163, according to the Colorado Springs Traffic management center. Around 3:30 p.m. two left lanes of the northbound I-25 were opened, according to the Colorado State Patrol, who warned of heavy delays between Baptist Road and Monument Hill.

"It was icy and there were semi-trucks that were stuck and couldn't get traction up the hill," said Steve Tobias with the Colorado Springs Traffic Management Center. "It was a parking lot due to the snow and multiple crashes."

The roads were cleared around 3:30 p.m., but there was no telling if they would stay that way through the 5 o'clock commute, Tobias said.

"If the temperatures drops during rush hours we could be in a little bit of trouble."

The fast-moving storm system is expected to drop snow from the Continental Divide and into the southeast mountains and adjacent plains during the afternoon and evening, according to the weather service.

Northern El Paso and Teller counties could get up three inches of snowfall, and the central mountains up to six inches of snow, the weather service said.

Colorado Springs will likely bear most of the storm's punch during the afternoon, with a 70 percent chance of precipitation, although less than an inch of snow is expected, mainly before 3 p.m. Temperatures may linger in the mid 40s, coupled with cold winds and expected gusts up to 50 mph, the weather service said.

Chances of snow should taper off Tuesday evening, mainly before 7 p.m., with gradually clearing skies and a low around 16 degrees, according to the service's forecast.

Strong winds have prompted a blowing dust advisory in eastern Colorado, in effect until 7 p.m. for Crowley, Otero, Kiowa, Bent, Prowers, Baca and eastern Las Animas counties.

A hazardous weather forecast was issued by the weather service, stating that winds could gust up to 60 mph across the southeast plains, causing visibility to drop to less than one mile at times.

Sunny skies and a high of 44 degrees with calm winds are expected for Wednesday, the weather service said.

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