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High winds close highways, cause havoc throughout state

By: RYAN MAYE HANDY AND MATT STEINER
January 11, 2013
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photo - A traffic camera shows Wolf Creek Pass on U.S. Highway 160 just after 10 a.m. Friday. Photo by COURTESY CDOT
A traffic camera shows Wolf Creek Pass on U.S. Highway 160 just after 10 a.m. Friday. Photo by COURTESY CDOT 

What do you do on a frigid weekend when temperatures hover in the teens, and a light slow slicks the streets?

Blame Canada.

Friday’s high winds, whiteouts and blizzard-like conditions across Colorado will give way to a bitterly cold weekend for Colorado Springs, according to the National Weather Service in Pueblo. The temperatures, with highs in the teens and lows in the negatives, are coming direct from the Great White North for the next four days as a Canadian cold front passes over Colorado and New Mexico.

The weekend got off to windy and snowy start for Coloradans with gusts of 50 to 75 mph blowing dust and obscuring roadways south of Colorado Springs. Multiple crashes, due to poor visibility, closed Highway 50 in both directions through Pueblo after noon. Blowing snow caused a 25-car crash on U.S 85 south of Fort Lupton, according to The Associated Press. There were no serious injuries, and the highway was only temporarily shut down while the chain-reaction crash was cleaned up.

While winds dried and snow squalls dusted the eastern half of the state, snow dumped in southwestern Colorado. The Colorado Department of Transportation closed U.S. Highway 160 at Wolf Creek Pass just before 10 a.m. Friday, but it reopened in the afternoon. The Wolf Creek Ski Area reported 8 inches of new snow since Thursday morning. CDOT reported most highways on the western side of the Continental Divide were snowpacked and icy on Friday.

In Colorado Springs, wind chills could dive to negative readings on Saturday.
Saturday nights low is predicted at minus 3 degrees for the city with wind chills near negative 10.

Those venturing to Denver for the Broncos playoff showdown against the Baltimore Ravens at 2:30 p.m. Saturday can expect temperatures just under 20 degrees at game time. Weather forecasters expect a slight chance of snow during the afternoon hours with up to half inch possible near the stadium.

But the cold front will pass through El Paso County by Wednesday, mostly like failing to deliver something that is desperately needed: precipitation.

“The next few days is going to get continuous light snow,” said weather service meterologist Steve Hodanish on Friday evening. “After that, boy, I don’t see anything. There’s just nothing. There’s a dry northwest flow over us until further notice.”

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