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Colorado, Pikes Peak region fall into the deep freeze

By: The Gazette
December 5, 2013 Updated: December 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm
Caption +
Jiban Shrestha leaves Starbucks on Tejon Street and Bijou Avenue with a warm cup of coffee Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, as temperatures dipped below zero in downtown Colorado Springs. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Colorado Springs could be flirting with the record-low maximum temperature set on this day in December  1972, when 6 degrees was the high for the day.

According to the National Weather Service, it won’t get above 7 degrees in most of El Paso County Thursday, and arctic conditions will linger until the start of next week.

Near record-breaking low temperatures in the Pikes Peak region, along with snow and ice, shut down many school districts and stalled morning commuters.

Click here for the latest list of closings and delays in the Pikes Peak region.

Colorado Springs woke up to minus 3 degrees near the airport and  the Air Force Academy was reporting -9 degrees, National Weather Service meteorologist Larry Walrod said.

Overnight, wind chills between -5 to -15 degrees brought temperatures in northern El Paso County as low as -23 degrees, Walrod said.

“The winds have only been blowing at five to ten miles per hour,” Walrod said. “But as cold as they are, it only takes a little wind to pop up and those temps really fall.”

Most school districts in the Colorado Springs area closed and others were delayed. Harrison D-2, Colorado Springs D-11, Academy D-20, Lewis-Palmer D-20, Manitou Springs D-14, Fountain-Fort Carson D-8 and Falcon D-49 are among the districts closed for the day.

Military personnel at Colorado Springs-area bases were delayed.

Also, recent dramatic weather changes may have contributed to a water main break that Colorado Springs Utilities officials estimated would take at least six hours to fix, keep 17 homes without water Thursday.

The water break was called in shortly after 8 a.m. but icy road conditions and below freezing temperatures stalled repair crews, who arrived at the site on the 4600 block of Bluestem Lane, off Oro Blanco Drive and Barnes Road, for nearly two hours.  Read more here.

Read more at Colorado State Patrol reports snow and ice mostly in between highway lanes and on the on-off ramps around Colorado Springs.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has not reported any highway closures, but drivers are encouraged to allow more time to travel.

According to The Denver Post, temperatures plummeted to -15 degrees at Denver International Airport about 6 a.m., tying the record-low for Dec. 5, 1972.

The northwestern part of the state endured some of the most brutal winter temperatures, with -29  just before sunrise in Meeker, and -27 in Craig, according to the weather service.

"Something I must stress is that these super-low temps will continue into next week," Walrod said. "By Wednesday or Thursday we may see an improvement in the mid 30s, which will feel quite warm after the single-digit readings we're getting."

Wednesday’s snowfall totals were considerable for Colorado Springs and El Paso County, but not record-breaking, Walrod said.

Colorado Springs weather spotters reported between 2 to 3 1/2 inches, while Black Forest was blanketed with 3 inches of powder. Monument received about 2 inches, according to weather service reports. Fountain got between 4 to 7 inches of snow.

Woodland Park and Cascade saw between 3 to 5 inches of snow, according to weather service spotters.

Snow flurries will persist through Thursday afternoon, Walrod said, with less than half-an-inch predicted to fall over the region.

Colorado Springs remains on accident-alert status, which the city was placed on Wednesday by police.

While snow and frigid temperatures closed down the Denver Zoo on Wednesday, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo remained open and was expected to stay open throughout the week, even offering “chilly weather discounts” for the Electric Safari, which opens Friday.

Zoo spokeswoman Erica Meyer said the staff had worked hard Wednesday to keep the grounds clear of snow and ice for visitors, who were still able to feed the giraffes who were indoors.

The snowy system dumped between 3 and 10 inches of snow around Denver, and ski resorts received their fair share, too.

About 13 inches of fresh powder fell at Arapahoe Basin, 12 at Crested Butte, 10 at Loveland, 15 at Monarch and 19 at Wolf Creek.


Photo gallery: Wednesday's winter weather in Colorado


(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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