High winds Wednesday shattered windows at Doherty High School and downed nine power poles in northeast Colorado Springs, shutting down a stretch of North Powers Boulevard for nearly 12 hours and cutting power to thousands of people.
Wind whipped the northeast side, with sensors picking up gusts of more than 70 mph, the National Weather Service in Pueblo reported. An area near the Air Force Academy repeatedly saw 79 mph gusts.
But perhaps the strongest wind speeds hit the summit of Pikes Peak, with an 89 mph gust recorded about 8 a.m. Elsewhere in the region, it was gusty without being destructive.
The power poles, which lined North Powers Boulevard between Dublin and Stetson Hills boulevards, were downed about 11:30 a.m., said Steve Berry, Colorado Springs Utilities spokesman. Between 8,500 and 9,000 customers lost power.
Powers reopened shortly after 11 p.m., according to Gazette news partner KKTV.
“I was just out there, and the crossbeams were broken, some of the equipment that hangs on those poles were cracked and scattered on southbound Powers there,” Berry said. “Some of the poles had kind of splintered, broken in half. So it was really strange, because normally when we have that here, and we experience broken power poles and downed lines of that size, it’s more widespread around the city. This was just a very strange, isolated area that just got hit really hard.”
Power was restored to all customers by mid-afternoon, but North Powers Boulevard was expected to remain closed until 3 or 4 a.m. Thursday because it was too windy for crews to climb poles to repair lines, and circuits had to be isolated and disconnected before restoring power.
Three Colorado Springs School District 11 elementary schools lost power in the outage, said district spokeswoman Devra Ashby. Rudy Elementary School and Martinez Elementary School let out early about 1:30 p.m., but classes were resumed at Henry Elementary School after power was restored.
About five windows in Doherty High School’s atrium were shattered by the wind, Ashby said. No students were injured.
“They had to keep the students away from the windows, and it was all around lunchtime, so they had to do a staggered lunch, which I’m sure made for an eventful afternoon,” Ashby said.
Temperatures in Colorado Springs hit 64 degrees, well above Feb. 13’s average high of 44 degrees. Red flag and high wind warnings were issued Wednesday for much of the Pikes Peak region.
But temperatures were expected to plummet later in the week, with predicted highs of 60 degrees Thursday, 55 degrees Friday, 47 degrees Saturday and 34 degrees Sunday, the weather service reported. Breezy weather is in Colorado Springs’ forecast Thursday, with 15 to 20 mph winds slowing to 10 to 15 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust up to 35 mph.