Tony Ferrara says he always sweats it out this time of year, worried that a late cold snap might ruin his apple crop.
Well, the cold snap came, but it appears Fremont County apple crops dodged a weather bullet when a spring storm swept into the region.
Along with the frigid mid-April temperatures, the region also received a covering of snow. Owners of Colon Orchards in Canon City and Happy Apple Farm in Penrose each said the snow might have been the saving grace.
“It’s like a blanket,” said Ferrara, who owns Happy Apple Farm. “It gives the blossoms some good cover.”
Mannie Colon, a third-generation owner of Colon Orchards on Grandview Avenue in Canon City, echoed Ferrara’s statement. But unlike his competitor to the northeast, Colon said he expects some damage to his 35 acres of apples.
“We don’t know what damage there is, but there is damage,” he said. “It will take us about five days to get a good reading.”
Ferrara said his blossoms had entered the stage where they turned pink but have yet to open. He said the fact that his trees seemed a bit behind schedule probably helped save the blossoms.
“We’re due for a good year and hope the good Lord will come through,” Ferrara said, noting that in 2011 and 2013 Happy Apple Farm lost its entire apple crop. Ferrara said he owns about 3,000 apple trees at the farm that his parents bought in 1984.
The storm that passed over Colorado Springs didn’t leave behind as much snow as originally predicted, but not enough to make 2013-2014 the snowiest season in 13 years, according to the National Weather Service.
The official report from the Colorado Springs Airport was 1.5 inches, putting the season’s total at 34.4 inches, said meteorologist John Kalina.
In 2000-2001, Colorado Springs received 56.8 inches of snow, Kalina explained.
“The storm underproduced in the snow amounts, but still had accumulating snow and it made the roads tricky, especially with some wind,” Kalina said.
The snowiest winter in Colorado Springs on record was in 1956-57, when 89.4 inches dumped on the city.
El Paso County seemed to get the worst of the storm Sunday afternoon and evening, when up to an inch of snow fell in Monument and Black Forest.
An eight-car pileup on southbound Interstate 25 by Monument Hill sent four people to the hospital around 4 p.m., when weather spotters were reporting the heaviest snowfall in the area.
Military installations in the region were on two-hour delays for non-essential personnel Monday, including Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases, the U.S. Air Force Academy and Fort Carson.
No school districts in Colorado Springs were on delayed starts, with the exception of Colorado Springs Christian Schools, Monument Academy Charter School and Peyton 23JT further northeast.
Higher elevations, both north and south of Colorado Springs, got double-digit snowfall totals, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and the weather service in Pueblo.
The northern Front Range got up to 18 inches and the Loveland pass measured up to 12 inches overnight, prompting the avalanche center to warn of a moderate risk of snowslides.
The Wet Mountains west of Westcliffe reported up to 13 inches, Kalina said.