Storms bring subzero weather
DENVER Although it was not a record cold Saturday in Denver, it wasn’t much consolation to drivers who negotiated streets as slick as an ice rink as mountain towns braced for more snow and wind.The southwestern mountains were forecast to get up to 16 inches of snow, but the Weather Service updated forecasts for most other areas to say heavy snow was unlikely.The highest temperature listed in the state by the National Weather Service at 2 p.m. was 32 at Alamosa. The coldest was zero at Buckley Air Force Base. Wind chills in many areas were minus 15 or lower. The Denver record low for the day was minus 20 in 1875.Xcel Energy kept a leaking gas line running to supply gas for heat to 20,000 homes in Highlands Ranch. The 61 homes near the leak were evacuated, possibly until Monday. Spokesman Mark Stutz said a crew from Oklahoma was putting in a line to bypass the leak.”On any other day we would take the pipe off-line and repair it, but with the extreme cold and high demand, it’s very problematic,” Stutz said, adding that shutting off the gas would leave thousands without gas for heat.
Xcel paid for the hotel rooms and per diem expenses of those affected.The weather may have contributed to a 17-vehicle crash on Interstate 70 near Glenwood Springs on icy, snowpacked pavement Saturday afternoon. Seven people were taken to hospitals, and at least one of the seven had serious injuries, the State Patrol said.Alica Harrison, 23, of Clifton, was cited for careless driving causing injury after her vehicle lost control on eastbound I-70, causing other vehicles to collide, the State Patrol said. Harrison may have been driving too fast for conditions, troopers said.The city of Denver sent workers out into the streets looking for people who couldn’t take care of themselves, said Roxane White of the mayor’s office. She said six people had been taken off the streets and brought indoors.There are an estimated 4,000 homeless people in Denver and 10,000 people in the metro area.”Some of the people who live on the streets don’t want to come in because they don’t like rules. Or they just don’t trust anybody,” said Greta Walker of the Denver Rescue Mission.
The city’s shelter and all other shelters were open 24 hours a day, said White.More than 297 filled the Denver Rescue Mission overnight. They were being allowed to stay in the shelter, which usually closes during the day.In southwest Colorado, a death was blamed on hypothermia this week. The body of a 76-year-old Cortez man missing Tuesday was found by a search team. Richard Sell had abandoned his truck on a Montezuma County road.Jon Swanson, a co-director at Boulder’s Special Transit, told The Daily Camera the service usually gives 350 to 400 people a day rides to grocery stores, jobs and medical appointments. The number has dropped to 50. The 11th annual Lafayette Oatmeal Festival 5 kilometer walk/run was canceled Saturday.In southern Colorado, trains killed 41 elk and antelope near Walsenburg when the animals came down from higher elevations seeking food.Low visibility grounded many flights Thursday and Friday at Aspen.
The snow that has already fallen was causing more than driving problems.The Daily Times-Call of Longmont said 11,000 of the city of Longmont’s 65,000 water meters are in underground pits that are mostly buried in snow, making it impossible to read them.The Chieftain reported that in Pueblo the winds had blown tumbleweeds up against doors, blocking them from opening. Volunteers were removing them. They were too wet to burn.Meanwhile, the series of storms has increased the state’s snowpack, and it is now 98 percent of the 30-year average.Some state money was available for people unable to pay their heating bills. They have to contact the Colorado Department of Human Services, Low Income Energy Assistance Program at (866) 432-8435.
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