Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Snow showers to linger into Thursday night

DANIEL CHACÓN Updated: February 20, 2013 at 12:00 am

Thursday’s weather calls for continued light snow off and on and a high in the mid-20s, according to the National Weather Service.

“The north wind is not going to help anything,” said Steve Hodanish, NWS meteorologist in Pueblo. “Dress very warmly.”

The snow likely will linger into the early evening with the temperature dropping into the mid-teens, he said.

“Tonight it will clear out a bit,” Hodanish said.

Friday the high will hit the mid-30s as a warm-up begins. Saturday the high will reach 40 and Sunday "it plunges down again into the 20s with high winds,” Hodanish said.

“It could be really snowy Sunday if the storm takes the proper track,” he said. “We are highly confident of high winds with gusts up to 40 and somewhat confident there will be more snow.”

This month’s trend is a little unusual, Hodanish said. February is usually a dryer month than January.

“We’re kind-of lucking out a bit this month,” he said.

March, on the other hand is the big month for snow as the storm track shifts and becomes more active, he said.

The Fountain area was the hardest hit by the storm, with up to 10 inches of snow.

A fast-hitting winter storm caused traffic chaos across much of the Pikes Peak region Wednesday evening, dumping several inches of snow in a matter of hours and keeping police and firefighters on their toes all night.

Colorado Springs police reported numerous crashes and traffic snarl-ups across the city, including a car sliding into a house and as many as 100 cars getting stuck in the area of Austin Bluffs Parkway and Barnes Road because of icy conditions.

“I got a report from our weather guy, and he told me that we got the heaviest band of snow he’s seen in years in one hour,” said Amaro Montemayor, the city’s streets operations manager.

About 40 city plows hit the streets in the early evening, but couldn't keep up with the rapidly deteriorating conditions.

Bobby Rodriguez, closing manager at Louie’s Pizza at Barnes and Oro Blanco Drive, had a front-row seat. A combination of frozen slush, ice and fresh snow meant vehicles couldn’t get up Barnes and were sliding into each other, he said. The crashes were mostly fender benders.

“I did put down some kitty litter and dirt…to make sure my drivers could get back to the store,” which closed early because those delivery drivers were having a hard time getting around town, he said.

The heavy snowfall affected air travel, too. At least four flights headed to Colorado Springs were diverted to Denver International Airport.

School closures alerts for Thursday began to stream out about 9:45 p.m. Wednesday and include Colorado Springs School District 11 and Manitou Springs School District 14. Other schools were reporting delays. Check gazette.com for the latest information on closures and delays for the region.

At 8 p.m., police urged residents to stay home, saying road conditions had “rapidly deteriorated.”

“Snow is falling so rapidly that snowplows are unable to keep up even though they are on full call out,” police said.

But clearly, many people were still trying to get home. The fire department asked drivers to use caution after reports of motorists driving over traffic cones or trying to go around roadblocks.

“It’s getting kind of dangerous for the people out there working,” said Sunny Smaldino, a fire department spokeswoman.

The department said a fire engine parked at Brookside Street and Crestone Avenue was struck by a car, though it didn’t provide more details about the crash.

As of 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, police hadn’t issued any reports of serious injuries or deaths as a result of the storm. A police spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

The city dispatched about 39 snowplows, and crews planned to work through the night.

Amaro said crews were focusing on the city’s main thoroughfares first.

“We’re trying to keep up with them. But we have a lot of traffic out there, a lot of cars that are stuck. We’re trying to do what we can to get around them and put down some material that helps them get unstuck,” he said.

Roads were slick in Teller County, too, but a Sheriff’s Office dispatcher reported no significant problems.

Kyle Mozley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo, said the Springs area could get anywhere from two inches of snow to eight inches, depending on the location of the city.

“On the east side of town, the way things have been going this evening, they may end up with six to 8 inches. Whereas on the southwest part of town, towards Fort Carson and that area, they may miss out on a lot of it and only get a couple of inches,” he said. “The farther north you go, you definitely have a better chance of seeing some heavier snow.”

Mozley said winds from the east brought the snow.

“As far as the Springs area … it’s nothing out of the ordinary. These storms can happen several times during the winter,” he said. “Out farther east toward the Kansas border and out in Kansas, this is going to be a big storm for them. They could get a couple of feet of snow.”

Colorado Springs should expect light snow “and maybe some flurries” Thursday, he said.

Snowfall totals as of 8 a.m.

  • Monument: 6 inches
  • Palmer lake: 2 inches
  • Black Forest: 8 inches
  • Air Force Academy: 8 inches
  • Three miles south of Colorado Springs: 5.4 inches
  • Monument: 6.3 inches
  • Ellicott: 5 inches with drifts up to three feet
  • Six miles east, southeast of Colorado Springs: 9 inches
  • Fountain: 10.5 inches
  • Two miles northeast of Fountain: 9.7 inches
  • Pueblo: 2.5 inches..

For more information:

Colorado Department of Transportation: http://www.coloradodot.info/

National Weather Service: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/pub/

Traffic Reports, Gazette: http://www.gazette.com/sections/traffic/

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