Storm dumps more than 2 feet of snow west of Denver
DENVER – Government offices and some businesses closed Friday after a second storm in a week socked the foothills west of Denver area with more than 2 feet of snow.Snow falling at up to 4 inches an hour blanketed Evergreen in the foothills west of Denver with 28 inches of snow Thursday and several highways were closed by slick, icy conditions or by accidents that took hours to clear. Interstate 25, the main north-south highway through the state, was closed about 60 miles north of Denver.Crews were scraping sidewalks early Friday and private contractors were plowing parking lots after 16 inches of snow fell in the Denver metro area by morning. About 33,500 customers – including 18,000 in and near Lafayette about 20 miles northwest of Denver – temporarily lost power, said Mark Stutz, spokesman for Xcel Energy.Power was restored to most customers by early Friday, Stutz said, though some had been in the dark and without energy to heat their homes in freezing temperatures for nearly four hours.Gov. Bill Owens again declared a statewide disaster emergency and state officials urged residents to remain home. With some 2 feet of snow possible in the Denver metro area through Saturday, some agencies expected to avoid the problems that came with last week’s blizzard that dumped nearly 2 feet of snow in about 36 hours, virtually paralyzing the region and shutting down Denver’s airport for 45 hours.”It’s falling at a much slower rate and it seems that the crews are better able to keep up with it,” said Scott Reed, a spokesman for the Regional Transportation District that operates public transit for the six-county Denver metro area.Buses and light rail trains were on a regular schedule Friday, Reed said, but: “We’re hoping commuters heed the state of emergency and the advisory to limit travel to only essential trips.” United and Frontier airlines, the two largest at the airport expected to operate a full schedule by noon.On Thursday, Denver plow drivers started spraying deicer on streets before dawn. Longmont residents lined up to buy snow shovels, and many stores along the Front Range reported running out. Frontier and United airlines canceled more than 180 flights in Denver.”We’re getting films, getting groceries, going home and staying in,” said Patricia Switzer of Denver, who was picking out DVDs after stocking up on staples and ingredients for chili.Cars lined up to get into a Denver King Soopers grocery store parking lot. Inside, Oliver Hogue filled a cart with milk, dishwashing detergent and other necessities.”It’s fun. It’s not like you get snow every day. If you live here, you have to be prepared for four seasons,” he said.King Soopers brought in extra trucks to stock its stores, some of which were still feeling the effects of the last storm, company spokesman Trail Daugherty said.Eggs were in short supply, and the variety of products was limited in some locations, but the situation was improving, he said.”This new storm, though, has created a lot of anxiety with consumers, and so today we are just absolutely inundated with customers.”The Apple Jack Wine & Spirits in Wheat Ridge was busy Thursday with New Year’s Eve around the corner. State law bars it from doing business Sunday. Store President Jim Shpall said his goal was to stay open during the storm.”A storm like this during a holiday means that you lose business. There’s no doubt about it, and it’s business that you don’t necessarily recover,” Shpall said.Federal courts were to remain closed Friday, as well as many government offices and businesses in Denver and other cities in the state’s main population corridor along the Rocky Mountain Front Range, including the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration offices in Boulder. Greyhound also canceled all trips out of Denver on Friday and more cancelations could follow this weekend depending on the weather.Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said for the first time since 1983, the city will enforce snow-route restrictions, towing cars parked overnight along roads marked as reserved for snow removal. He also urged residents to avoid driving as much as possible and to help each other with snow shoveling and freeing stuck cars.”We felt we had to do anything we could to get the city open again,” he said.That included hiring private contractors and working with Denver Public Schools and all city agencies to get as many snowplows working as possible. At the height of the work during this storm, up to 180 vehicles will be working to clear snow from the city’s streets – from major arterials to neighborhood roads – more vehicles than have ever been used for snow removal in Denver, Hickenlooper said.—Associated Press Writers Judith Kohler, Don Mitchell, Jon Sarche and Chase Squires contributed to this report.
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