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'Bomb cyclone' delivers explosive punch, capping weeks of epic snowfall in Colorado

Big impact of this winter's historic snowfall
Posted: 6:21 PM, Mar 13, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-14 07:01:31-04
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DENVER -- The ferocious "bomb cyclone" caps several weeks of unprecedented snowstorms in Colorado, from blizzards on the plains to rapid fire avalanches in the high country.

Reality has lived up to all the hype about Colorado's epic snow lately.

The bomb cyclone has certainly proved to be explosive. Highways, including three major interstates leading in and out of Denver are still shut down, a massive pile-up partially shut-down another interstate south of the city and businesses, including Starbucks and major restaurant chains, all closed – bringing commerce in metro Denver to a screeching halt.

School districts canceled classes before a single flake flew and some grocery store shelves emptied out early Wednesday night.

We’re gauging the impact from the mountains, to the plains to the plow operators here in the city.

How's the Colorado snowpack doing?

We start with snowpack. This winter's epic snowfall has increased snowpack in the Colorado Rockies anywhere from 120 to 150 percent in all the major basins.

"This is the time of year that we're looking to fill our reservoirs for the spring that then carries us through the summer," said Travis Thompson, spokesman for Denver Water.

Thompson says the ‘bomb cyclone’ has officially ended the drought on the Front Range.

"We are now no longer in drought as far as the drought monitor is concerned," Thompson said. “Just through this storm right now, it brought us to that level, so that's obviously very exciting."

What about the impact to ski resorts?

In terms of the impact on ski resorts – it is historic.

At Vail, the average snowfall for March is 61 inches. The resort hit 61 inches Wednesday morning, just 13 days into March 2019.

At neighboring Beaver Creek, the average snowfall for March is 59 inches. By Wednesday morning, Beaver Creek had already hit 71 inches for this March.

And in Steamboat, it has snowed 11 of 13 days in March. Season snowfall to date in Steamboat is a whopping 382 inches, that compares to 183 inches this time last year.

It’s also translating to an avalanche of cash. Vail resorts reported net income at $358 million in the 2nd fiscal quarter of 2019, compared to $309 million in the same period last year.

The snowfall is definitely good for business

"It’s good for everybody,” said Guillermo Ruiz, who helps run a snow removal company in metro Denver.

How good? For-hire commercial plow operators say business is up 300 percent over last year.

"Three or four times better than the last three years," Ruiz said.

As for city street plows, Denver Public Works says it's back to where it should be.

It expects to expend $5 million a year for snow removal, and so far this year, DPW is right on track budget-wise.

As for what this means for farmers and even your own lawn

Some crops already planted, like Hungenberg Produce carrots in Weld County, won't need to be irrigated right away - saving thousands of gallons of water in the early season.

And Thompson says your trees and lawn won't need water for a few weeks either, even with temperatures bouncing back to the 60's next week.

"We're off to an awesome start this March,” Thompson said. “We're very optimistic right now. This is exactly what we're looking for. It's a bummer for commuters, but exciting for water supply."