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Blog: Live updates as blizzard takes aim at Colorado

Posted: 5:27 AM, Mar 13, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-14 18:13:00-04
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This is the Denver7 breaking and developing weather news blog. Throughout the day, this story will be updated with both minor and large breaking news events as a powerful winter storm hits Colorado, creating blizzard conditions along the Front Range and Eastern Plains. Check back as we continue to update this story.

The storm has shut down all six runways at Denver International Airport, prompted the cancellation of thousands of flights, shut down highways and cut power to thousands in the Denver area. The Red Cross has set up several shelters and warming centers across Colorado and Wyoming. A list of shelters can be found here.

MORE | School closings and delays | Snow totals | Everything you need to know about the blizzard | Forecast | Weather page | Traffic conditions | Flight cancellations

Below you can find live updates on weather and traffic conditions, along with photos and videos of the storm as it moves through Colorado:

9 a.m. Thursday — We have Wednesday updates on weather conditions, traffic and closures here.

10:30 p.m. — Douglas County Schools says their school buses have rescued more than 450 stranded travelers - and said they will continue to work overnight to help people stranded out on the roads.

10:27 p.m. — The National Weather Service in Boulder says the snowfall total at DIA has been 7.1 inches as of 10:20 p.m. Wednesday

10:16 p.m. — Parker Road is closed from Glendale to Monument, a nearly-50 mile closure, according to state officials, the police department says.

9:46 p.m. — 92nd Ave. between Vance and 91st Ct. is shut down due to a transformer issue that will require a response from Xcel. It's unclear when the road will reopen, Westminster Police said in a tweet.

9:46 p.m. — Xcel Energy says over 287,000 customers have had their power restored. About 143,000 others remain without power tonight. Officials say 300 more crews will be added to the workforce Thursday to help repair power outages.

9:33 p.m. — Here is the latest Colorado traffic update in the Southwest/South-Central Colorado road updates, regarding closures and openings:

Southwest Area:

  • US 160 Wolf Creek Pass is OPEN.
  • US 550 Coal Bank/Molas Passes are OPEN.
  • CO 145 Lizard Head Pass is OPEN as of 6:30 p.m.
  • US 550 Red Mountain Pass is CLOSED (EXTENDED/ONGOING CLOSURE).

South-Central Area:

  • US 160 La Veta Pass is OPEN.
  • CO 17 La Manga/Cumbres Pass are CLOSED for adverse weather.

8:53 p.m. — Douglas County Schools says it has taken more than 300 people stranded on the streets to shelters using the district's school buses. Four more buses are heading out to continue to help stranded drivers.

8:45 p.m. — Interstate 25 remains closed from Lone Tree to Colorado Springs, "and will remain so over overnight," CSP Castle Rock officials say.

8:32 p.m. — During a media briefing on Wednesday night, CDOT officials say the following:

  • I-70 mountain corridor is open to all traffic, but they will be doing numerous avalanche mitigation efforts on Friday.
  • I-25 from Castle Rock to Monument will remain closed overnight. Officials will decide Thursday morning when it will reopen. Secondary routes north and east of I-25 will remain closed.
  • I-70 from Airpark Blvd. to the Kansas state line will remained closed overnight and probably later to Friday afternoon because of high winds.
  • I-76 from Northeast of Brighton to the Nebraska state line will be closed overnight.
  • I-25 from Wellington to the Wyoming border is closed until tomorrow.
  • US 287 from Ted’s Place to Wyo. border will be closed overnight.

8:27 p.m. — Denver Public Schools as well as several other major metro-area school districts are canceling all classes on Thursday. See if your child's school has called a snow day by clicking here.

8:17 p.m. — Denver police has received 125 crash reports following Wednesday's winter storm. The only part of the city that remains on accident alert is the southeast portion of Denver, according to officials.

7:50 p.m. — Xcel Energy says it has restored service to approximately 235,000 customers and are working on remaining outages affecting 165,000 customers. Further restorations are expected through the overnight hours.

7:30 p.m. — Denver International Airport is offering stranded travelers blankets as they wait it out a the airport. You are asked to stop by the customer service booths on Concourses A, B or at baggage claim 9 in the terminal and pick up a blanket. Passengers on Concourse C are asked to stay where they are; DIA officials will come to you.

7:27 p.m. — The A Line has resumed operations from DIA all the way down to Union Station, RTD officials say. There are some delays.

7:24 p.m. — One more shelter has opened for Douglas County residents at New Hope Presbyterian Church in Castle Rock, deputies say.

7:12 p.m. — I-76 is closed from Lochbuie to the state line, Brighton Fire Rescue officials say.

6:54 p.m. — Outbound Pena Boulevard has reopened after an hours-long closure due to multiple crashes.

6:32 p.m. Cherry Creek Schools will again be closed Thursday due to weather conditions in the district. All classes, athletics and after school activities are canceled, officials said via Twitter. Before and after school daycare programs will be closed.

6:23 p.m. — Douglas County Schools will be closed again Thurday due to weather conditions. All after-school activities – including athletics, clubs, parent-teacher conferences and other school-related events – are also canceled for tomorrow.

6:16 p.m. — Denver7's Jennifer Kovaleski got some video of the traffic mess on eastbound I-70 just east of Aurora.

6:10 p.m. — The latest update from the National Weather Service in Boulder:

6:08 p.m. — Driving conditions are treacherous in Weld County after plows ceased operations due to the extreme weather conditions.

5:46 p.m. — The Colorado Department of Transportation says I-25 from Colorado Springs to Lone Tree will be closed through Thursday, possibly into the midday hours as it's still too dangerous for travelers.

5:42 p.m. — The latest weather update from the National Weather Service in Boulder:

5:42 p.m. — Xcel Energy says there are currently 191,000 customers without power. It will take a day or two to get every customer back in service.

5:41 p.m. — The six runways at DIA are still closed at 5:30 p.m. and a total of 1,385 flights were canceled. Most airlines canceled all their departing flights for the remainder of Wednesday. Read more here.

5:38 p.m.: — Jefferson County Schools will be closed again on Thursday, school officials said. More closings and delays here.

5:37 p.m. — An update on road conditions in southeast Aurora:

5:28 p.m. — Lone Tree police are out rescuing people stranded in their vehicles and are taking them to the Lone Tree Recreation Center, which as been set up as an emergency shelter.

5:25 p.m. — Douglas County School officials say they've taken over 100 stranded people to emergency shelters using four school buses to transport them to safety. Travelers were picked up from I-25 and Larkspur, CO 86, CO 83 and CO 105.

5:23 p.m. — A State of Emergency has been declared in the City and County of Denver due to the blizzard, city government officials have announced.

5:17 p.m. — RTD officials say bus and rail delays are now between 30 and 90 mins. A Line trails are operating every 30 mins. SkyRide bus service is ending at 40th and Airport; you're asked to use the A Line as an alternate way to get to and from DIA.

5:15 p.m. — Access to outbound Peña Blvd. betwen the airport and 56th Ave. has been temporarily suspended to provide assistance to drivers and to treat and clear the roadway, DIA officials say.

5:11 p.m. — Multiple vehicles are stranded on Bromley west of I-76.

5 p.m. — The City of Colorado Springs is asking people to stay off the roads as hundreds of travelers as stranded in Colorado Springs and El Paso County. They say it will take "hours" for emergency crews to get to those stranded drivers. They ask that people out on the roads move to the side if they're stranded and stay with their vehicle.

4:57 p.m. — Adams County has issued a local disaster declaration which will allow the Colorado National Guard to deploy sources and provide help across the county to people affected by the blizzard.

4:52 p.m. — The New Covenant Church shelter ins Douglas County is closing down due to a power outage. People are being taken to the Douglas County Event Center, 500 Fairgrounds Rd. in Castle Rock.

4:37 p.m. — More than 500 crews are working on restoration efforts across the state, but dangerous conditions and road closures may limit those efforts, Xcel Energy officials say. They ask that you be patient as they work under treacherous conditions.

4:31 p.m. — I-70 is back open all the way to the Eisenhower Tunnel, according to Denver7 photojournalist Drew Smith.

4:26 p.m. — This is the latest snowfall forecast coming from the National Weather Service in Boulder:

4:21 p.m. — Peak wind gusts are occurring at this time on the far eastern Colorado plains, the National Weather Service in Boulder says. While the strongest winds have now moved east of the Front Range urban corridor, strong winds and poor visibility and dangerous travel conditions continue.

4:17 p.m. — Franktown Fire officials say the Colorado National Guard and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office with snow plows will be used to rescue stranded drivers and take them to shelters.

4:09 p.m. — A 52-year-old Colorado State Patrol corporal who was responding to a vehicle that had slid off the road on westbound I-76 near mile marker 47 during the blizzard was struck and killed late this morning, CSP officials say. The CSP corporal was identified as Daniel Groves. Groves had been with the CSP since 2007. He is survived by his partner of two years. More on this story here.

4:08 p.m. — The Colorado Springs Police Department is asking drivers to exit at northbound I-25 at Fillmore and use city streets as they're trying to clear stuck vehicles on I-25 north of that location.

4:05 p.m. — Douglas County Sheriff's deputies say Kirk Hall at the Douglas County Fairgrounds is at capacity. People still looking for an emergency shelter in the area are asked to go to the Douglas County Event Center (right next to the fairgrounds).

4 p.m. — I-70 is being opened from Golden west, but conditions are still rough, CSP Golden says.

3:45 p.m. — E-470 has set up an emergency shelter for stranded drivers at 22470 E. 6th Parkway in Aurora. Stranded drivers on E-470 can call 303-537-3400 for help.

3:43 p.m. — Denver Public Works will be working to clear bike lanes throughout the day to keep cyclists safe. If you see ice or snow in bike lanes, you are asked to report it by calling 311 or using pocketgov.com.

3:38 p.m. Denver agencies will open for business until 10 a.m. Thursday. All 24-hour city services will maintain regular operating schedules, including snow response, traffic operations and public safety and emergency responder operations. a

3:26 p.m.. — An Adams County Sheriff's Office snowcat and snowplow are tracking east along Quincy looking for stranded drivers. Deputies say they have rescued two people so far and they're being taken to Eastern Service Center.

3:18 p.m. — Denver Police says it has received 110 traffic crash reports today as a powerful winter storm moves through the metro area. Please be careful if you must drive. If not, stay home.

3:18 p.m. — Douglas County Schools officials say the district has allocated three buses to transport stranded drivers near Larkspur. Several other buses are on standby.

3:14 p.m. Gov. Jared Polis has authorized the activation of the Colorado National Guard for search and rescue operations for stranded drivers and has declared an emergency due to today's blizzard. More on this story here.

3:10 p.m. — I-25 near the Wyoming border has zero visibility, according to Denver7's Daryl Orr.

2:59 p.m. — E. 96th Ave. is now closed all the way between Highway 2 and Tower Road in Commer City, city officials said on Twitter.

2:59 p.m. — The A-Line trains near Peña Blvd. are at a standstill due to a frozen switch near 61st and Peña. RTD officials say crews are actively working on the switch.

2:58 p.m. — The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Weld County have stopped plowing roads because "most roads and highways are at zero visibility and impassable." Officials advise that vehicles still out on the roads stay where they are and not for their safety or don't go outside altogether.

2:50 p.m. — Xcel Energy says it does not have any estimated times of restoration for the more than 200,000 customers without power. A spokesperson said on Twitter that they were guessing "there will be many customers without all night at least."

2:48 p.m. — RTD says people should expect 45 to 60 minute delays on the A Line. Trains leaving Union Station at :15 and :45 and leaving DIA at :27 and :45. Westbound I-70 is back open at Copper Mountain after avalanche reduction but eastbound is still closed between Vail and Copper Mountain.

2:40 p.m. — All outbound flights from the Colorado Springs Airport have been canceled.

2:38 p.m. — The National Weather Service's Boulder office says the heaviest snow is starting to shift to and just east of I-25.

2:38 p.m. — The National Weather Service's Boulder office says the heaviest snow is starting to shift to and just east of I-25.

2:37 p.m. — Kiowa Fire Deputy Chief Don Ogborn says the Colorado National Guard has been called out to help rescue people trapped in at least 100 stranded vehicles on Highway 86 between Kiowa and Elizabeth.

He said the people would be taken to one of three shelters set up in Elbert County in Elizabeth, in Kiowa and in Agate.

Ogborn said wind was the biggest issue in the area and there was zero visibility in the area.

“It’s pretty drastic,” Ogborn said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a storm of this magnitude out here.”

He implored Elbert County residents to stay off the roads and to stay inside and give police and fire time and space to work

2:20 p.m. — As of 2:15 p.m., most of the roads in the Eastern Plains were closed, including I-70 from Tower Road to the Kansas border. I-25 is closed from Monument to Ridgegate and from Wellington to the state line. Most of the mountain passes in southwestern Colorado are closed and there are verious closures on the I-70 mountain corridor. For the latest statewide road conditions, click here.

0 p.m.

2 p.m. LIVE STREAM: We are live with blizzard updates from the Denver7 team from across northeast Colorado. Live streaming coverage will continue through at least 5:30 p.m.

1:39 p.m. — Highway 83 in Douglas County is closed from Franktown down to South County Line.

1:29 p.m. — Denver International Airport has closed all six runways due to low visibility on the airfield, however the terminal and concourses remain open, according to a news release. Airlines have canceled 1,332 flights at this time. United, Frontier and Southwest have canceled all departing flights for the afternoon. The airport has experienced wind gusts near 75 mph today.

1:20 p.m. — Pena Boulevard is closed in both directions from 40th Avenue all the way to the airport.

1:05 p.m. — Denver Health has closed all of its primary and secondary care clinics, family health centers and school-based health centers. The emergency department and pediatric and adult urgent care will stay open.

12:49 p.m. — The eastbound and westbound lanes of I-70 are closed between Vail and Copper Mountain for avalanche reduction. The interstate is also closed in both diections from Idaho Springs to Golden.

12:29 p.m. — A Denver7 viewer was driving northbound on I-25 around noon when they captured video of this pile-up. It occurred in the southbound lanes between mile marker 163 and 167.

12:29 p.m. — A Denver7 viewer was driving northbound on I-25 around noon when they captured video of this pile-up. It occurred in the southbound lanes between mile marker 163 and 167.

12:24 p.m. — Interstate 76 is closed in both directions from Lochbuie to the Nebraska border.

12:14 p.m. — CSP Limon is urging drivers to stay off I-70 in the Limon area. Multiple semi trucks have jack-knifed and the interstate is closed.

12:14 p.m. — Highway 40 is closed in both directions from Kremmling to the western state border, according to Kremmling Fire.

12:08 p.m. — Highway 85 is closed in both directions at Manhart due to a jack-knifed semi.

12:03 p.m. — Xcel has updated its outage numbers. It says there are now 714 outages affecting more than 128,000 customers around Colorado.

12:01 p.m. — I-70 is closed in the eastbound lanes at Silverthorne.

11:59 a.m. — CSP said one of its employees may have been involved in a crash on I-76 at mile marker 147. Denver7 is working to learn more.

11:46 a.m. — Both eastbound and westbound lanes of I-70 are closed between US 36 and the Kansas border.

11:44 a.m. — An outage in Elizabeth is affecting more than 1,000 customers.

11:42 a.m. — All Elbert County Roads are closed.

11:35 a.m. — I-25 is closed from Lincoln Avenue to County Line Road in both directions. I-25 northbound is being closed from Colorado Springs to Castle Rock. Highway 83 and 105 are not good alternatives, CSP says. Sheltering in place is the best option.

11:27 a.m. — Both directions of I-76 are now closed between Brighton and the Nebraska border.

11:23 a.m. — The Xcel outage map is showing 74,301 customers are currently without power in the Denver metro area. Some of these outages could affect traffic signals. Denver Public Works is urging drivers to treat intersections without working lights as a four-way intersection.

11:23 a.m. — The Xcel outage map is showing 74,301 customers are currently without power in the Denver metro area. Some of these outages could affect traffic signals. Denver Public Works is urging drivers to treat intersections without working lights as a four-way intersection.

11:19 a.m. — Westbound I-70 is closed from Golden to Idaho Springs. Southbound I-25 has been closed between Castle Rock and Monument Hill. Eastbound I-76 is closed at 104th Ave.

11:13 a.m. — The southbound lanes of I-25 are closed between Greenland and County Line Road. There are multiple crashes in this area.

11:11 a.m. — Both directions of US 85 are closed between County Road 96 and the Wyoming border, CDOT reported. In addition, all lanes of I-76 between US 34 and the Nebraska border are closed.

11:06 a.m. — Roads in Rocky Mountain National Park have closed due to the storm and the whiteout conditions. US 36 is closed at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and US 34 is closed at the Fall River Entrance and the Grand Lake Entrance.

11:04 a.m. — DIA has reported a wind gust of 75 mph with heavy snow. As of 10 a.m., 1,078 flights have been canceled and 45 flights have been delayed. For more on DIA delays, click here.

10:52 a.m. — The city of Arvada will close all facilities at 11 a.m.

10:50 a.m. — Colorado State Patrol is reporting multiple crashes on I-25 between Castle Rock and Monument Hill. Conditions are deteriorating around the Palmer Divide.

10:47 a.m. — The eastbound lanes of I-76 near Eagle Boulevard is shut down after a semi crashed. A heavy wrecker is at the scene, according to CSP 1D Adams. All traffic is being diverted onto E. 136th Avenue.

10:46 a.m. — US 36 is closed in both directions between I-70 and the Kansas border. CDOT did not have an estimated time for reopening the roads.

10:41 a.m. — The city of Louisville will close all facilities at 1 p.m.

10:39 a.m. — Both directions of US 285 are closed between mile marker 183 and County Road 60.

10:34 a.m. — RTD is reporting minor delays — about 10 minutes — across the system. Buses are starting to become delayed as well.

10:28 a.m. — I-25 northbound at Monument has reopened.

10:25 a.m. — US Highway 285 is closed between Fairplay and the top of Kenosha Pass. There is zero visibility in this area.

10:24 a.m. — Lakewood city offices will close at 11 a.m., including municipal courts.

10:18 a.m. — Emily Williams with DIA says that as of 10 a.m., 1,078 flights have been canceled and 45 flights have been delayed. DIA is continuing to monitor the weather and has deployed more than 200 pieces of snow equipment to clear the airfield and Pena Boulevard. For more on DIA delays, click here.

10:17 a.m. — Interstate 70 has closed in both directions just east of DIA to US 24 in Limon. The northbound lanes of I-25 are closed at Wellington and Monument.

10:07 a.m. — The northbound lanes of I-25 are closed at Wellington up to the Wyoming state line.

10:03 a.m. — The city of Sheridan will close at 11 a.m. today.

10 a.m. — City of Boulder officers, library branches and recreation centers will close at noon.

9:55 a.m. — CDOT has closed La Veta Pass between mile markers 254 and 298 due to the treacherous conditions.

9:30 a.m. — Power poles are down at I-70 and Lowell due to the semi that crashed into a barrier. Lowell is closed in both directions from 47th to 49th Avenues. The westbound I-70 ramp to Lowell is closed and the eastbound lanes of 47th and 48th are closed in the area.

8:59 a.m. — Two lanes on westbound I-70 near Lowell are closed after a semi crashed into a barrier and rolled off the interstate.

8:59 a.m. — Two lanes on westbound I-70 near Lowell are closed after a semi crashed into a barrier and rolled off the interstate.

8:35 a.m. — Heavy snow and rain is expected to flood Cherry Creek. Crews won't be able to clear the nearby trails until that water recedes.

8:22 a.m. — The city of Centennial offices will close at noon today due to the weather. The Highlands Ranch Community Association Recreation Center will close at 10 a.m.

8 a.m. — CDOT says there is a full closure between Island Lake Road and C.60 Road in Grand Mesa, just easy of Grand Junction, due to an avalanche. Another avalanche in Ophir with heavy debris as closed Ophir Road in San Miguel County is also closed.

8 a.m. — CDOT says there is a full closure between Island Lake Road and C.60 Road in Grand Mesa, just easy of Grand Junction, due to an avalanche. Another avalanche in Ophir with heavy debris as closed Ophir Road in San Miguel County is also closed.

Highway 65 closure due to avalanche

7:11 a.m. — The northbound lanes of I-25 have reopened at 120th Avenue.

6:57 a.m. — Several DMV offices are closed Wednesday, including those in Aurora, Boulder, northeast Denver, Golden, Lakewood, Lakewood Westgate, Littleton, Northglenn, Parker, Westminster.

6:55 a.m. — A crash in the northbound lanes of I-25 near 120th Avenue is slowing down traffic on the highway. Just one left lane was getting by the crash. This is causing a 40-minute delay for drivers.

6:34 a.m. — An Avalanche Warning has been issued for the Front Range, and areas around Vail, Summit, Sawatch, Aspen, Gunnison, Grand Mesa, Sangres and South San Juan zones. Today's snow and winds will keep avalanche conditions dangerous. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is asking you to avoid crossing or traveling below avalanche terrain and steep slopes. Natural and human-triggered slides are very likely. Avalanches are impacting locations that haven't had any in recent years.

5:43 a.m. — Larimer County says its county offices and courts are closed due to the weather.

5:35 a.m. CDOT has closed I-70 westbound at mile marker 215 due to a crash west of the tunnel.

5:30 a.m. — Denver city government offices, Denver district and Denver County courts are closed. Recreation centers are also closed. Government essential and emergency services will continue operations. Denver Public Works will resume regularly scheduled collections Thursday.

4:50 a.m. — State of Colorado government offices in Denver and surrounding suburban counties are closed. “Essential personnel” must report to work at their normal scheduled time.

4:50 a.m. — State of Colorado government offices in Denver and surrounding suburban counties are closed. “Essential personnel” must report to work at their normal scheduled time.