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January 14, 2013
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Summit County recovering from bitter cold snap

A wave of frigid weather that lingered over Summit County this past weekend kept local churches and auto repair shops busy as people struggled to deal with the three-day cold snap.

The temperature bottomed out somewhere in the negative teens or 20s with some reports of readings as low as -30 degrees. Alamosa reached -34 degrees Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather generated business for local auto repair shops over the weekend. Across the county, cars stalled out with dead batteries and flooded injectors.

Ski Country Shell and Towing co-owner Jeff Lewark said he's fielded between 30-50 temperature-related calls for service over the course of the last few days.

"What really compounds it for us at this elevation is the combination of the cold temperatures and thin air," said Lewark, who noted that the conditions can cause cars to flood injectors with fuel keeping the engine from starting.

Other local mechanics reported an increase in requests for winter wipers, fluid and tires as the mercury dropped.

"We always have a lot of tire-related stuff with freezing temperatures," said Sergio Alvarez, manager of Big-O Tires in Frisco. "People are sliding, so we're recommending a lot more snow tires."

Alvarez said as much as a fourth of his business has been related to the cold weather over the last few days.

Local churches have also seen an increase in business in recent days as more of Summit County's homeless come looking for assistance in finding respite from the cold.

Father Dyer United Methodist Church uses discretionary funding to provide hotel rooms for individuals in need.

"We've seen it pick up in the last three weeks," pastor Loren Boyce said. "When it's cold like this it's hard for me to turn them away."

Five people came to the church looking for temporary lodging on Monday alone, including one individual who said he had found shelter in a local carport that protected him from the snow, but without walls, did nothing against this weekend's bitter cold.

Aside from a single electrical fire, there were no serious emergencies caused by the temperature drop this weekend, but officials say they likely won't see the worst of the damage until the weather warms up again.

"We don't see the results of hard freezes until it thaws again," Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue spokesman Steve Lipsher said. "That's when the pipes start bursting."

For most local residents, however, the cold weather is an inconvenience more than anything, making ski runs and other outdoor plans less comfortable.

"The SHS alpine team raced Friday night in brutal conditions at Keystone," Frisco resident Luke Wignall told the Daily in an email Monday. "Standing for hours taking hand times for each racer left me with toes still numb today. Meanwhile the kids were waiting their turn in their speed suits. Talk about athletes!"

The temperature is expected to top out in the mid-teens in Frisco today, but forecasts for the rest of the week call for sunshine and warmer weather. Highs could reach 32 degrees by Friday, according to the National Weather Service.


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The Summit Daily Updated Jan 14, 2013 11:07PM Published Jan 14, 2013 11:07PM Copyright 2013 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.