Many Pikes Peak region residents were recovering from a blizzard hangover Thursday.

Drivers were having trouble getting to their destinations in the morning. Police officers were helping drivers get to their stranded cars during the day. And it wasn't until evening that all roads were cleared and reopened.

El Paso County spokesman Dave Rose said about 100 cars had not been retrieved by their owners as of Thursday evening. Most of the roads have been cleared by snowplows, though there was drifting snow throughout the day.

"There's still some snow in the snowbanks," Rose said. He noted the car owners "might be waiting until they get off on the weekend or another day of melting" and added that cleanup could have been worse if school buses were on the roads. This week, schools are on spring break.

The spring blizzard that punched through Wednesday left many drivers frustrated and stranded in the Colorado Springs area. Scott Gault, a manager of Randy's High Country Towing, which is contracted with Colorado Springs police, said his company moved at least 100 cars to nearby parking lots and out of the roadway to make way for plows during the storm that featured high winds and low visibility.

With each tow at a cost of $70, the services were provided by the city, Gault said. Up to 20 cars were impounded at the car owner's expense, if, for example, the vehicle was involved in a crash.

Much of the towing company's 150 service calls landed on the north and northeast parts of Colorado Springs, where several major roads were closed until Thursday morning.

"The guys doing it, they had to deal with blowing snow and whiteout conditions," Gault said, referring to the work of his company's 15 tow truck drivers. "They had a heck of a time out."

The same could be said for anyone else who helped with rescues of stranded motorists across the state.

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Also on Wednesday, the Denver International Airport shut down for several hours as about 1,300 flights were canceled. On Thursday, many passengers were still waiting for their flights.

At least 115 unattended cars left in the Denver area and along other parts of the state highway received a red tag through Thursday afternoon, meaning the owners had 48 hours to retrieve their vehicle, said trooper Alisha Danko, a State Patrol spokeswoman. State Patrol asked anyone whose vehicle was towed in the Pueblo and Colorado Springs areas to call the agency's communications center at 544-2424 to find out where it went.

Nearly 350 people sought refuge at American Red Cross shelters during the blizzard, according to a tweet by the organization's branch in southeast Colorado.

"It really was an extraordinary snow event," Gov. John Hickenlooper said Thursday. "We had a multiagency response. Pretty much everybody was out or was deployed statewide yesterday and almost all night. Not just the Colorado Department of Transportation and State Patrol but all our emergency management teams, national guard, local law enforcement, shelter staff, we even had the Department of Natural Resources staff out last night as well to assist with people who had been stranded or were in difficult situations."

But those situations may not be over - there's another chance of rain and snow this weekend.

In a weather report, KKTV chief meteorologist Brian Bledsoe said a storm could move into the Pikes Peak region Friday night, though "the best chance for any accumulating snow ... will favor areas along and west of I-25, especially the mountains." He added that the "heaviest snow" will likely fall southwest of Pueblo on Saturday.

In Colorado Springs, the forecast calls for a high near 50 degrees before the weather is expected to shift to cold and snowy in the evening. The airport could see up to 3 inches of snow Friday and additional 3 to 7 inches Saturday, according to a forecast by the National Weather Service in Pueblo.

"The snow will wind down from north to south on Saturday night, and be out of here by Sunday," Bledsoe said in his report. "However, Sunday will remain quite cool despite offering more sunshine and drier weather."

CDOT was forced to push back ramp closures at Interstate 25 and Cimarron Street/U.S. 24 in west Colorado Springs because of wintry conditions. The work - part of a multimillion dollar renovation to the interstate interchange - will be conducted until 5 a.m. Friday and from 9 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday.



Chhun Sun is The Gazette's morning breaking news reporter. A Thailand-born Cambodian-American, he joined The Gazette's staff in April 2015 — covering everything from public safety to sports and outdoors to local/state politics.

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