BY midday Wednesday Alamosa unofficially had close to 6 inches of snow on the ground in blizzard conditions and the county government was closing it down for the day. Most San Luis Valley schools and public offices had closed already, given the 35-mph wind gusts and blowing snow across the roadways that made driving conditions difficult.
It was only Alamosa Schools that remained open and, according to Assistant School Superintendent Luis Murillo, would remain open midday. “We will continue to monitor weather conditions,” Murillo said.
Emergency managers in the San Luis Valley were puzzled by Alamosa Schools’ decision to stay open given the blizzard-like conditions. Teachers in the school district created a hashtag #ihopeimakeithome.
David Osborn, Colorado Department of Homeland Security field manager for the San Luis Valley, said emergency managers were reporting accumulating snow in blizzard conditions across the six-county region.
LEFT: Snow-clearing already under way in Del Norte (Ryan Michelle Scavo photo). CENTER: Second-graders at Alamosa Elementary gather to watch the storm (Claire Lara photo). RIGHT: A man struggles with a shopping cart early Wednesday morning in Alamosa (CLopez photo).
The National Weather Service had issued an avalanche warning for the north and south San Juan Mountains. “Heavy snow and strong winds have created dangerous avalanche conditions in the backcountry,” the NWS said in the warning. It advised that avalanches will run naturally due to these conditions, and large and dangerous avalanches will be “very easy” to trigger in many places.
Backcountry travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended. “Avoid travel on and under slopes steeper than about 30 degrees.” You can find more detailed information on backcountry conditions here.
The weather outlook into the evening is slowing snow and then back to mostly sunny skies into the weekend.
The Alamosa District courts are closed for in-person appearances. All scheduled dockets will be held virtually. The court opening was also delayed to 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Alamosa County Sheriff Robert Jackson said Wednesday morning that “so far calls for service are minimal.” He noted a couple of minor “slide-offs” on some county roads, but nothing more serious than that. He did say that the roads in Alamosa County were “terrible”.
He said with the adequate notices that came in prior to the storm, people hunkered down and knew well enough ahead of time to stay inside.
This storm reminded him of the “good old days” but during his time in the San Luis Valley, he doesn’t quite remember a storm like this happening so late in the winter season.