Strong winds during and since last week’s heavy snowfall in Rocky Mountain National Park have resulted in snowdrifts of six to 12 feet in the area, officials said. The snow and ice conditions prove to be an obstacle for the teams trying to clear the roads.
“Snow and wind at higher elevations this morning are hampering efforts again,” park management specialist and public affairs manager Kyle Patterson said in an email on Saturday.
The Fall River entrance, Beaver Meadows entrance, and the park’s Wild Basin entrance remain closed to vehicles while crews work.
“Park plow operators encounter 6 to 12 foot drifts along sections of park roads above 8,500 feet. A drift over Hollowell Park, along Bear Lake Road at about 9,000 feet, is 300 meters long, 8 feet deep and covers the entire width of the road surface, ”said Patterson.
As strong gusts persist and plow operators clear snow drifts, snow continues to drift behind them, officials report.
“Warm temperatures on the roads before the storm, followed by freezing temperatures, then snow and rain added a thick cover of ice. Ice, winds, blown and consolidated snow impact heavy equipment and rotary plows. These drifts cannot be pushed through with a typical snow plow. It takes time and specialized heavy equipment to cut through these drifts, ”Patterson said.
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