Blustery snow on Thursday wreaked havoc on Boulder County roads, prompting Boulder and Longmont police to place their streets on accident alert and the temporary closure of Boulder Canyon because of multiple crashes.
"It just made it tricky for the evening commute," Boulder County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Clay Leak said. "It caught everyone by surprise."
Leak said that as of about 8:45 p.m., the county had responded to about 12 property damage crashes, a dozen slide-off accidents, at least one rollover and a report of a car that struck a telephone pole. He wasn't aware of any major injuries.
He said the traffic problems appeared to be concentrated in the central, eastern and mountainous regions of the county, and they appeared to be complicated by snow that melted in fairly warm temperatures during the day that dropped and caused ice to form.
He said that the cold temperatures expected overnight would likely affect the morning commute.
"It's a potential issue," he said. "It's going to be cold enough overnight."
Boulder Police Sgt. Paul Reichenbach said that the city went on accident alert at about 3 p.m. because of the snow, but officers still responded to numerous crashes where vehicles were disabled and couldn't be moved.
The Colorado State Patrol also placed all of unincorporated Boulder County on accident alert in the afternoon — basically asking motorists involved in minor crashes not to immediately report them — after multiple reports of car crashes around the county.
State Trooper Josh Lewis said on Thursday night that he was unaware of any traffic fatalities in the state resulting from the bad road conditions, but he said the state patrol had responded to a higher-than-normal number of crashes.
Longmont police Sgt. Tim Madigan said that officers had been responding to more crashes than usual, and roads — particularly overpasses — were icy, and plow crews were responding on Thursday night.
Sgt. Paul Campbell, also with Longmont police, said police responded to 15 crashes between 2 and 9:30 p.m. and another 15 minor crashes happened that motorists were advised to report later on because of the accident alert.
According to the National Weather Service, Boulder got between 2.8 and 5.8 inches, depending on where the measurements were taken. Longmont got 3 inches, Lyons got 6.5 inches and Nederland got 5 inches.
Boulder County Sheriff's Office Cmdr. Mike Wagner said that the crash that prompted the temporary closure of Boulder Canyon involved a bus and two cars at the mouth of the canyon, but no injuries were reported, and officers could be heard on the radio giving bus passengers rides to Nederland to the west.
Plow crews from municipalities, the county and the Colorado Department of Transportation hit the streets and highways to drop sand on slippery roads.
The National Weather Service is calling for a 40 percent chance of snow in Longmont on Friday, likely before noon, with a 20 percent chance of snow Friday night before 11 p.m. The high is expected to reach about 28 degrees.
The chance for snow in Boulder on Friday is a little lower, about 30 percent before noon, but a 20 percent chance for snow on Friday night before 11 p.m. also exists. The high temperature is also expected to be about 28 degrees.
The weather is expected to clear up during the weekend, but temperatures will likely not break 40 degrees.
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