Frigid weather is expected to stick around this week after a snowstorm hit the Pikes Peak region, bringing high winds with up to a half-foot of snow, snarling roads, prompting dozens of closures and possibly claiming a life.
A man covered in a blanket was found dead just before 7:30 a.m. Tuesday on a bus stop bench at Austin Bluffs Parkway and North Academy Boulevard.
The man's identity and cause of death were not released but there were no signs of foul play, police said.
Police could not say whether the man was homeless but said he was on the bench in heavy clothing and wrapped in a blanket.
Temperatures overnight dropped to 21 degrees at the Colorado Springs Airport and gusts of up to 61 mph and sustained winds of 46 mph plummeted wind chills to as low as 1 degree, the National Weather Service in Pueblo reported.
By mid-afternoon Tuesday, temperatures crept to 27 degrees — the day's high — with a wind chill of 11 degrees.
All 220 beds at the Salvation Army's R.J. Montgomery shelter were full on Monday night, said Karen Daugherty, who oversees the facility. However, the Springs Rescue Mission — which expanded its shelter capacity in December — had space for 110 additional people on beds and sleeping pads, said Travis Williams, the nonprofit's chief development officer.
Williams implored people living outside to seek the safety and warmth of the shelter at 5 W. Las Vegas St., where admission is based on behavior, not sobriety. Pets also are allowed.
"We want everybody who is finding themselves out in the cold to be seeking shelter," he said. "We've done everything that we possibly can to remove as many barriers as possible, so that folks can find access to warm, safe, dry and reliable shelter."
In all, about 340 people sought shelter at the Springs Rescue Mission's campus on Monday night, Williams said. It was a sign the recent expansion was working, he said, because otherwise dozens of those people likely would have been turned away.
The closest weather service data station to the bus stop — Woodmen Road and Interstate 25 — recorded 3 inches of snow overnight. The Colorado Springs Airport, the city's official measurement location, reported about an inch.
The storm iced over roads across the county, shutting down some major highways for most of Tuesday. Mountain Metro Transit buses were delayed to an 8:30 a.m. start time. Usually, a bus stops at Academy and Austin Bluffs every 15 minutes starting at 5:52 a.m.
Most school districts in the region were closed Tuesday, in addition to a slew of churches, organizations and colleges. Fort Carson, Schriever Air Force Base and the Air Force Academy also were closed.
Road conditions were "treacherous," especially in eastern El Paso County, the Sheriff's Office tweeted. Several major arteries were closed, including U.S. 24 in both directions from Colorado Springs to Limon and Woodmen Road between Black Forest and Meridian roads.
"One of CDOT's key concerns today is limiting as much traffic as possible on I-25 from Monument to Castle Rock," said the Colorado Department of Transportation in a statement.
City snow crews began plowing roads just after midnight Tuesday, said city spokeswoman Kim Melchor. Crews were expected to remain on a full call-out into Wednesday evening.
"The blowing snow and the drifts were the biggest challenge because sometimes they would plow over something and then it would just cover back up again," she said.
After another chilly night Tuesday, the weather service predicted a high of 39 degrees Wednesday and a nighttime low of 18 degrees. Thursday brings a high of 31 and low of 16.
But other than a 20 percent chance of snow showers Thursday, dry weather is ahead.
Click here for a full list of closures and delays around the Pikes Peak region.
Click here for traffic and road conditions in the Pikes Peak region, including the closure of U.S. 24 in both directions from Colorado Springs to Limon.
Click here for flight delays and cancellations from the Colorado Springs Airport.
Click here for the latest road conditions around Colorado.
The Gazette's Jakob Rodgers contributed to this report.