Stricken with sub-zero temps, most Colorado Springs-area school districts cancel classes

By Andrea Sinclair Updated: February 6, 2014 at 12:43 pm • Published: February 5, 2014 | 9:30 pm 0

UPDATE

Winter's grip on the Pikes Peak region didn't let up Thursday morning as temperatures reaching at least -15 hit Colorado Springs, forcing most school districts in the area to cancel classes a second straight day.

The weather service listed the Springs' temperature at -15 at 7:25 a.m.

Colorado Springs' largest school district, D-11, had scheduled a two-hour delay but shortly after 7 a.m. called off classes for the day.

Lewis-Palmer D-38, Cheyenne Mountain D-38 and Manitou Springs D-14 also canceled classes in the past hour, following Harrison D-2, Widefield D-3 and Falcon D-49 along with several other districts in the Pikes Peak region that decided it was best to keep children at home.

Click here for a full list of Thursday delays and closures.

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Temperatures didn't get higher than 1 degree above zero in Colorado Springs Wednesday, causing an increase in emergency room visits and auto accidents.

That frigid "high" temperature came about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday -- and it was all downhill after that. Still, it wasn't record-setting cold. The lowest maximum temperature for Feb. 5 is zero, which was hit in 1989, according to the National Weather Service.

It was cold enough, though, that Memorial Hospital saw an uptick in patients needing treatment for weather-related injuries, including falls, accidental hypothermia and frost bite.

Dr. Robert Lam, an ER physician at Memorial, said he was also seeing patients with show day activity injuries.

"This is the time of year people like to go sledding," said Lam, "Kids - and adults too. We're seeing people with broken fingers and concussions from impact with obstacles."

Lam had also seen cases of mild frostbite and accidental hypothermia, mostly involving the homeless and people using drugs or alcohol, who tend to lose judgment about when it's time to get out of the cold, he said.

And with the frigid temps, schools on Thursday morning are again on delay or, in some cases, classes are canceled. Most large districts in the Colorado Springs area closed Wednesday because of the weather.

Lam's advice to Colorado Springs residents was to be aware of the weather conditions and bundle up.

"We sometimes have this laissez-faire attitude around here about the cold," he said, adding that locals don't always dress appropriately for the weather. "It's kind of like a badge of pride, but it's dangerous."

The light snow did not pose as much danger as the bitterly cold winds that moved into the region, creating icy road conditions and prompting more delays and closures for school districts around the region Wednesday and Thursday.

Ice buildup on the roads caused trouble for Colorado State Patrol troopers Wednesday morning when two crashes happened less than half-a-mile apart, Trooper Ryan Comer said.

About 8:40 a.m. a Dodge Dakota rolled over near the Interstate 25 on-ramp to exit 163, causing minor injuries to the driver, Comer said. A Ford F-250 towing a trailer lost control and was damaged when the trailer crushed the truck's tailgate. Both wrecks were cleared by 10 a.m. but stalled traffic for miles.

"Thankfully none of the crashes were serious, but drivers need to understand that some de-icers do not work in such low temperatures, they need to slow down and be extra careful," Comer said.

Colorado Springs police remained on accident alert Wednesday night as temperatures plummeted to minus 8 degrees. The forecast called for a 20 percent chance of snow through the night and wind chill values between minus14 and minus 24 degrees, said John Kalina, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Pueblo.

Temperatures weren't expected to get higher than 18 degrees Thursday, and a low of 8 was predicted. Denver's high of minus 1 degree was on track to break a 25-year-old record.

The near week-long cold snap also prompted winter warming shelters, which were at capacity Wednesday night, to stretch operating hours. The week's arctic weather also had the Colorado Department of Transportation rationing de-icer, which is in low supply.

Residents should see some relief as the city begins to thaw Friday, when temperatures are expected to reach the mid-30s.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Colorado Springs set a new low maximum record temperature and gave the wrong temperature for Wednesday's high.

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