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Snow Piles Up in Rockies; Making For Adverse Travel

UPDATED 2 PM MDT, October 26, 2011

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Chad Merrill

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An early season winter storm is in full force across the Rockies, spreading heavy wet snow with totals in some spots surpassing a foot. The snow will become a distant memory by Thursday as high pressure noses in, bringing a return to sunshine.

Snow is piling up across the Rockies and Front Range in Colorado this afternoon, closing roads and knocking out power. Route 34 is closed between Trail Ridge Road and Colorado River Trailhead because of weather conditions. In addition, Wyoming Route 210 between Curt Gowdy State Park and Interstate 80 is closed. Interstate 70 across the Rockies remains snowy and slushy in places like Vail and Loveland Pass and through Denver.

WeatherBug Meteorologist Aaron Schaeffer has the latest on today`s Rockies snow threat and Hurricane Rina in this exclusive WeatherBug Video.

The highest snowfall total reported so far is in Jamestown, Colo., where 18.2 inches have accumulated. Fifteen inches have fallen west of Cheyenne, Wyo., with 4 to 8 inches in places like Woodland Park, Westcliffe and Buena Vista, Colo.

An additional 5 inches will coat the highest elevations, including the Denver metro this afternoon, with up to 10 inches along the Colorado/Wyoming border before tapering off tonight. This will make for a sloppy afternoon commute, and travel along Interstates 25 and 70 near Denver will be slippery. While all roads in Colorado are open, chain laws are in effect along Interstate 70 between Idaho Springs and Mount Vernon Canyon, and near Loveland Pass.

The heavy, wet nature of the snow combined with northeast winds of 15 to 20 mph could easily snap tree branches that still have their leaves on them and leave some residents in the dark. More than 100,000 customers are without power around Denver and in northeastern Colorado.

Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories are in effect for the Rockies from central Colorado into northern New Mexico, including Denver, Vail and Telluride and Aspen, Colo.

As temperatures drop into the teens, slushy spots, especially on untreated secondary roads, will become ice with travel continuing to be dangerous and slick. Freezing temperatures will sink deep into the interior Southwest, with cities as far south as Albuquerque likely to see the mercury drop close to or under 30 degrees tonight and Thursday night.

In anticipation of the subfreezing temperatures, a Freeze Warning has been posted for tonight for the Middle and Lower Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico, as well as Albuquerque and Santa Fe metro areas, and the west Texas and Oklahoma panhandles.

The season`s first big winter storm for the Front Range is being triggered by a low pressure system developing along a cold front sinking south into New Mexico. The system is tapping moisture streaming from the Pacific and cold air diving out of Canada to produce the season`s first major snow storm.

High pressure will build in from the Northern Rockies tonight, ending the snow threat with sunshine returning in full force Thursday.

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