Home » Mass power outages reported as freak Colorado snowstorm subsides

Mass power outages reported as freak Colorado snowstorm subsides

by John Jefferson
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A major storm dumped over 4 feet of snow in northern Colorado before ending Friday, leaving thousands without power and continuing to make travel hazardous in the mountains and foothills west of Denver.

The storm shut down a highway that connects Denver to Colorado ski resorts for much of the day Thursday, stranding some people in their cars for hours. Portions of Interstate 70, the state’s main east-west highway, first closed as the storm moved in Wednesday night.

The Colorado storm, which began Wednesday night, delivered the slushy, wet snow typical for March, one of the snowiest months in Denver, which got up to about 10 inches of snow. Between 10 and 20 inches fell in the metro area and 2 to 4 feet in the foothills, the National Weather Service said.

SNOW PILES ONTO DENVER BY THE FOOT; AIRPORT, MAJOR HIGHWAY SHUT DOWN

Snow reports were still being collected but the highest accumulation so far was 53 inches in Nederland, a mountain town near Boulder, the weather service said.

Interstate 70 west of Denver remained closed to trucks through noon Friday. Trucks that got stuck in the snow, some without the tire chains required to travel the route, were the main reason traffic shut down on the highway after the storm moved in so authorities were trying to prevent that from happening again.

Drivers stuck behind them had to wait for specialty tow trucks to come in and haul the big rigs out of the way to allow traffic to flow, said Sgt. Patrick Rice of the Colorado State Patrol. The highway reopened to passenger vehicles Thursday afternoon.

Rice urged any drivers setting out to bring food and blankets in case they get trapped.

“We’re going to continue to work at this and keep the road open the best we can,” said Matt Inzeo, a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

While a boon to Colorado’s ski industry, the extreme conditions shut down several ski resorts Thursday. The storm also closed numerous schools and government offices Thursday and Denver area schools were closed again Friday.

More than 10,000 customers were without power across Colorado on Thursday primarily in metro Denver and along the Front Range, according to poweroutage.us.

Since the storm is the rarer kind that brings more snow to the eastern half of the state rather than the mountains, it may not do much to feed the Colorado River, which supplies water to more than 40 million people in the West.

About 800 flights were canceled at Denver International Airport on Thursday but only about 20 were scratched Friday and more than 100 were delayed, according to Flightaware.com.

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