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Travel Impacts On I-70 Through Glenwood Canyon Possible With Incoming Rain

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - The remnants of Hurricane Nora are still a few days away from impacting Colorado, but transportation officials are looking at how it could impact Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon.

"There are several other drainages within the canyon that have not run. So, it just depends on where the amount of rainfall that hits those thresholds and causes debris flows," said Todd Blake, a Deputy Maintenance Superintendent at the Colorado Department of Transportation.

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The rain isn't expected to be a widespread, lengthy, soaking event. The moisture from the gulf will be enough to cause thunderstorms with the potential of flash flooding.

"It looks like Wednesday afternoon into evening hours we have a better chance of stronger thunderstorms which could produce up to over an inch of rain in a short period of time," said Erin Walter, a Meteorologist for the National Weather Service. "The potential is there for over an inch of rain in certain locations, though pinpointing that is still difficult this far out."

All summer long, CDOT officials have been working with forecasters at the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction. When a watch is issued CDOT sends teams to closure points to be prepared to close the canyon. When a Flash Flood Warning is issued the interstate is closed, until the rainfall stops, and crews wait to see if or how much debris has come down the numerous drainages in the canyon affected by last summer's Grizzly Creek Fire.

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"We're keeping our fingers crossed it's a short-term closure if we have any this week, so just all depends on the amount of rain and how fast it comes," said Blake.

With travel in the area expected to increase toward the Labor Day weekend, rain showers could linger later in the week.

"There's a possibility with moisture lingering for storms that storms with that strength could cause a closure," Walter said. "We know it's difficult and it can be an inconvenience, but we're concerned about public safety, and we don't want to keep it open if the threat is there."

"You want to travel through the canyon, the earlier the better. If you're in the morning hours, seems to be the best. We have the least amount of chance of going to a watch or a warning," Blake said.

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