The October snowstorm -- the first to hit the Front Range this season -- knocked out power and heat to thousands of homes and businesses on Wednesday.
At one time more than 140,000 people from Fort Collins to Littleton were without power, but by 7 p.m., that number had been reduced to 28,000, according to Xcel Energy spokesman Mark Stutz.
The number included 25,000 Denver customers.
Most of the power outages were caused by the wet heavy snow, which weighed down tree limbs and snapped power lines. Many of the trees still had leaves that helped them catch more snow.
Stutz said Xcel repair crews will be working throughout the night and he hoped to have most of the power restored by midnight. However, he acknowledged it could take several days to restore service to everyone.
The city of Loveland said an estimated 3,000 homes and businesses served by its municipally owned utility were without power Wednesday afternoon.
An electrical cooperative based in Brighton, Union Power, said it had about 300 customers without power.
Intermountain Rural Electric said it had no major power outages.
Red Cross Opens Warming Shelters
The Red Cross said Xcel Energy and Poudre Valley REA expected many homes to remain without power overnight so it opened warming and overnight shelters to give residents in northern Colorado who are without power a warm place to stay until they can return to their homes.
The Red Cross shelters are located at:
- Thompson Valley High School, 1669 Eagle Drive, Loveland
- Island Grove Exhibition Hall, 525 N. 15th Avenue, Greeley
- Windsor Community Recreation Center, 250 N. 11th Street, Windsor (operated by Town of Windsor and supported by DaySpring Christian Church)
The shelters will remain open overnight with cots, blankets, hygiene items and food for shelter residents. There are no plans to open additional facilities at this time, but the Red Cross said it continues to monitor emergency needs throughout Colorado.
Power Outages Prompt Closures
Power outages forced the closure of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and the Boulder County Criminal Justice Center in Boulder. The power outage also knocked KOA Radio off the air for nearly an hour Wednesday afternoon.
The Greeley Fire Department responded to over 100 emergency calls overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday. Officials said during that period they typically average 10 to 12 calls. The majority of the calls were associated with wet, heavy snowfall accumulating on trees and breaking them.
There are also outages in Littleton, Sheridan, Cherry Hills Village, Ken Caryl, Lakewood, Glendale,Englewood, Wheat Ridge, Golden, Arvada, Westminster, Thornton, Broomfield, Northglenn, Lafayette, Niwot, Berthoud, Johnstown, Timnath, Fort Collins and other cities.
We have brought in extra crews from New Mexico and Grand Junction," said Xcel Energy spokeswoman Michelle Aguayo. "They have been working throughout the night.
Xcel has more than 150 people working on restoring power including 80 line crews, 10 Texas crews, two Grand Junction crews, 33 tree crews and various support people.
Almost all of the outages have been caused by branches falling onto power lines, Aguayo said.
To report an outage to Xcel Energy, call 1-800-895-1999.
First Storm A Little Late
Northern Colorado got the most snow from this storm. Greeley picked up about a foot and Jamestown, in Boulder County, received 18.2 inches. Between 12 and 16 inches of snow fell at Rocky Mountain National Park.
President Barack Obama landed in Denver just as the storm whipped into Colorado Tuesday evening. In his speech at the Auraria campus on Wednesday, he tried to make a joke about the snow -- but quickly figured out from the crowd's reaction that the storm wasn't especially early.
"What's up with this snow so soon?" Obama asked. When the crowd didn't respond, Obama switched gears. "Or is it late? Is it late for Denver?"
The crowd laughed.
Denver's first snow can come as early as September but usually hits before mid-October.
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