Hurricane-force winds, freezing rain and snow hit Colorado
DENVER — Hurricane-force wind gusts knocked over trucks, sent roof shingles flying and downed powerlines in the Colorado Springs area on Monday while a tanker truck overturned on an icy stretch of Interstate 70 in the mountains, shutting down the highway for hours as more snow fell in the mountains.
Freezing rain also temporarily shut down the runways at Grand Junction’s airport as moisture streamed into the state from the Pacific.
The winds, pushed like waves over the mountains, hit hardest around Colorado Springs, including a gust of 101 mph recorded at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. The winds shut down city bus service and led officials at Fort Carson to urge soldiers and others on post to shelter in place.
The wind ripped off roofing material El Paso County courthouse, shutting it down, and took off a portion of the roof at Calvary Baptist Church in Colorado Springs.
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About 160 miles of Interstate 25 from the Colorado Springs area to New Mexico was closed to truck traffic after numerous vehicles were knocked over.
Colorado’s normal “mountain wave” wind effect combined with a more southerly and stronger jet stream and high pressure trying to move east to produce those dramatic winds, said Larry Walrod of the National Weather Service in Pueblo.
Strong wind gusts are more typically seen in the foothills north and west of Denver but Monday’s conditions aligned to bring the worst of it more to the south.
“Today was just kind of our turn,” he said.
The winds were also warm and raised temperatures into the 50s and 60s along the Front Range and melted the snow left from last week’s frigid winter storm.
In western Colorado, a mix of rain and sleet falling on top of snow is believed to have contributed to a crash involving two trucks, including a tanker fuel truck at around 6 a.m. in Eagle County, said Trooper Jeffrey Chmielewski.
According to the state patrol, a semi-truck carrying empty beer cans lost control on I-70 and ended up blocking both westbound lanes of the highway.
The tanker truck crashed into the rear of that truck, spilling cans on the road, and drove into the median, where it overturned and spilled about 2,100 gallons of diesel. No one was injured.
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