- Most area schools and many other organizations are closed or on delayed start today. Get the complete list here

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"The storm is over," Colorado Springs officials were touting Thursday morning, but the Pikes Peak region is still feeling the effects of Wednesday's bomb cyclone.

Schools remained closed, as did city offices, and many business delayed openings as crews continued to clear blowing snow and stranded vehicles from roadways.

"Our crews have been working hard all night long, coordinating with (Colorado Springs police)," the city tweeted Thursday morning, warning that thick ice and abandoned vehicles remain an issue. "The storm is over but our response is not. If you can stay home and off the roads today, please help us out."

Interstate 25 remains closed for northbound traffic from Woodmen Road to Castle Rock and southbound traffic from Castle Rock to Monument. I-25 between RidgeGate and Castle Rock reopened at around daybreak.

The interstate will not fully open until the afternoon, CDOT said. Highways 83 and 105 also remained closed with "no suitable" alternate route, it said.

Monument officials warned roads are "still very nasty," and asked motorists to stay home another day.

"Folks I cannot make it any clearer for you! Roadways are not passable and will not be until possibly late into the afternoon," the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District tweeted. "Allow the road crews to work don’t add to the problem! Stay home!"

Colorado Springs officials echoed the warning, saying additional slide-offs and crashes were impeding snow plows and efforts to clear roads and rescue stranded drivers. At one point, seven pieces of equipment were needed to help motorists stuck on a single hill in north Colorado Springs, typing up 15 percent of the 40-vehicle fleet, said Corey Farkas, city streets manager.

Locally, U.S. 24 from Constitution Avenue to Limon is shut down, as is Colorado 94 from Colorado Springs to Punkin Center and Woodmen Road from Powers Boulevard to the Falcon area.

The closures meant some motorists were left to spend the night in their cars, while others abandoned their vehicles to stay in warming shelters until conditions improved.

An estimated 1,100 motorists were stranded across El Paso County Wednesday with hundreds more stranded along I-25, leading Gov. Jared Polis to declare a state of emergency and activate the Colorado National Guard. 

El Paso County Sheriff spokeswoman Jacqueline Kirby said crews were able to make “significant progress, even in the dark" clearing many of those vehicles overnight, but by late Thursday morning there were still about 250 stranded vehicles that still needed to be checked along U.S. 24 and Colorado 94.

The National Guard assisted emergency crews throughout the state in checking on an "unheard of" 900 stranded vehicles, Jim Reid of the Pikes Peak Region Office of Emergency Management said during a morning briefing in Colorado Springs. The Guard said it rescued 93 people and two dogs.

So far, no injuries have been reported related to stranded motorists.

"We had people with medical conditions but I think we were able to get them out," Reid said.

Those stranded are advised to stay with their vehicle, run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour and make sure exhaust pipes aren't blocked. Drivers should also crack a window slightly to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Douglas County said it still had more than 150 stranded vehicles on roadways and was working to "get people from the shelters back to their cars." It reported over 700 people staying in warming shelters overnight.

Roughly 10 people also stayed overnight at the Colorado Springs Airport, which opened as a warming shelter. Nearby hotels were full to capacity with travelers and airport staff, spokeswoman Aidan Ryan said.

The airport provided blankets and sleeping pads to overnight guests, as did Denver International Airport.

Air travel remained uncertain across the region.

Service resumed at Colorado Springs and Denver airports Thursday after both were shut down during the March blizzard, but some flights were still delayed or canceled.

The Colorado Springs Airport had 57 flights scheduled for Thursday, more than half of which are on time, Ryan said. Twenty-one flights have been canceled and four are delayed.

"We had no arrivals yesterday, so all of our planes were elsewhere," Ryan said. "We're just waiting for planes to get here so we can depart."

The first flight out is scheduled for 10:56 a.m. To check your flight status at the Colorado Springs Airport click here.

Denver International Airport was reporting 675 cancelations and 105 delays, mostly impacting morning flights, spokeswoman Emily Williams said. Commutes to the airport were also problematic with the main corridor between Colorado Springs and Denver shutdown.

Some of the flights canceled Thursday had nothing to do with lingering bad weather. President Donald Trump and the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft while officials investigate whether problems with the plane's systems contributed to deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

The order grounded more than 70 aircraft, mainly impacting American, Southwest and United airlines.

The order had no impact on Colorado Springs' airport, Ryan said, but Denver averages about 27 Max 8 flights a day, a spokesperson said in an email.

It's not know exactly how many flights were impacted by the order, but Southwest airlines has about 22 scheduled Max 8 flights a day at DIA, while American Airlines has four, a DIA spokesperson said. Cayman Airways operates the planes out of Denver about two times per week.

Colorado Springs Utilities reported 117 outages affecting 1,300 customers across the city Thursday morning. Downed trees and limbs on power lines seemed to be a major issue, spokesman Eric Isaacson said.

Mountain View Electric Association reported 8,000 customers without power Thursday. View the utility's outage map here.

Crews will be out working on lines throughout the day, but the company could not provide an estimated time for restoration, Isaacson said.

“That’s the frustrating part for customers who have been out so long,” Isaacson said. “We just ask them to be patient.”

The blizzard warning for northern El Paso County expired at 6 a.m., but winds between 25 and 35 mph could still cause blowing snow and hampered visibility.

Gusts up to 96 mph were reported Wednesday at the Colorado Springs Airport.

The strongest lingering winds will blow in northeastern Colorado Springs and on the Plains, causing blowing and drifting snow, Gazette news partner KKTV reported.

Temperatures were forecast in the 30s and 40s in Colorado Springs on Thursday, with warmer weather into the 50s expected Friday and into the weekend, KKTV said.

Shelters remain open at:

  • Homeless Shelter available at Springs Rescue Mission; 5 W. Las Vegas Ave., Colorado Springs, CO
  • Woodmen Valley Chapel West; 290 E. Woodmen Road, Colorado Springs
  • Woodmen Valley Chapel East; 8292 Woodmen Valley View, Colorado Springs
  • Mountain Springs Church, 7345 Adventure Way, Colorado Springs
  • Falcon Patriot Learning Center; 11990 Swingline Road, Peyton
  • Calhan St. Paul’s; 1450 5th St., Calhan
  • Monument St. Peter’s; 55 Jefferson St., Monument
  • New Covenant Church; 77 Perry Park Ave., Larkspur
  • Black Forest Community Church, 6845 Shoup Road, Black Forest, (Note: A phone number is posted on the door, call and the shelter will be opened)
  • Douglas County Fairgrounds; 500 Fairgrounds Road, Castle Rock

Contact the writer at 719-636-0362 or find her on Twitter: @njKaitlinDurbin.

Reporter

Kaitlin is a public safety reporter with a focus on investigations. She is a proud Ohioan, champion for local libraries, volunteer reading tutor and an expert ice cream connoisseur (mint chocolate chip!). She joined the Gazette in 2016.

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