Cities across Colorado are preparing for the latest storm system this weekend, which is expected to bring wet, heavy snow.
The State's Emergency Operations Center opened Friday to begin coordinating resources for communities that could be hit hard by the storm.
Spokeswoman Micki Trost said that the Ops Center will be at Level III. That means that in addition to the Homeland Security and Emergency Operations staff, representatives from the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Red Cross and even the Colorado National Guard will be on hand to help coordinate.
"We already have verbal authority from the Governor to activate the National Guard," Trost said, "to assist in getting large trucks out and getting out guard members to get people off the highway when they're stranded."
Trost added that because the Red Cross is there, they'll be able to activate shelters from stranded motorists.
Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT):
CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford said there are two things to remember about this storm.
1) There will be snow.
"If you're planning on driving to the mountains, we want people to remember that 'chain law' and 'passenger traction' laws will very likely be in effect, so check your tires and make sure your cars are read to go," Ford said.
2) It will be heavy.
"In instances where it starts getting to about 1/2 inch to an inch and hour, that's going to be a challenge for our trucks to keep up with that volume... so you might see some road closures starting to happen."
Meteorologists on Xcel's staff are continuing to monitor the weather. Earlier this week the utility company decided to call in mutual aid. About 90 crews from outside the service area will be available to help, including employees from the Western Slope, Kansas and Oklahoma. 350 crews are on standby as the storm moves in.
Xcel Energy offers the following tips for anyone impacted by the storm:
- Report outages to Xcel Energy or local power company
- Stay away from downed lines
- Clear snow from gas meters or appliance vents
So how are cities across the metro area prepping for the storm?
The City of Denver is ready to clear roads as soon as snow begins to accumulate. The department of public works will focus on the city's main streets first. Here's a break down of how they will tackle the snow over the weekend:
- 70 big snow plows will be deployed
- Residential snow plows will be put on standby and city officials will make a determination whether or not to plow those streets based on current conditions.
The city's public works department is geared up for the 2015/16 winter season, incorporating some significant changes to its snow and ice control program. The city preparedness includes:
- Seven snowplow/sanders and one reserve truck
- A large, six-wheel drive motor grader, one front-end loader and two backhoes for cutting ice and significant snow accumulations
- Recently-installed GPS tracking systems in all trucks to assist drivers on primary and secondary routes
- 1,400 tons of Ice Slicer, 5,000 gallons of magnesium chloride (MgCl2)
- 16 operators trained and available 24/7 for snow call-outs
- Nine employees from the department's Grounds Division for clearing city-owned sidewalks and parking lots
You can view Littleton's snow route priority map below (via City of Littleton/Twitter):
The City of Wheat Ridge is preparing for the coming winter storm by coordinating with the Police Department, local fire agencies, Parks and Recreation, Public Works and Xcel Energy. The city is asking residents to keeip a close eye on their social media accounts for the latest developments as the storm moves through.
The city offers the following tips:
- Limit travel during the storm and stay home if possible. If you have to travel, make sure you have an emergency kit with you and your mobile phone is fully charged.
- If you do have to go out, dress for the weather.
- Use caution when shoveling wet, heavy snow. Push the shovel to clear a path and minimize lifting heavy amounts.
- Check your emergency kit supplies or gather items like flashlights, extra batteries, snacks, bottled water and first aid supplies.
- Charge your cell phones and mobile devices now and limit use to conserve battery life in case the power goes out.
- Make a plan to check in with family and neighbors.
Downed power lines:
- Call 911 immediately to report the location of the line.
- Never touch a downed power line or anything touching the wire.
- Keep children and pets away from downed lines.
- Do not drive over a fallen power line.
- Use flashlights, not candles to minimize risk of fire.
- Do not open refrigerators and freezers. Most food will stay safe in a closed refrigerator for several hours.
- Turn off or disconnect appliances and other equipment to prevent damage from power surges.
CDOT is canceling the next two runs of its Bustang service along the Interstate 70 Corridor between Denver and Glenwood Springs due to weather and current and potential road closures of the highway over the next 24 to 48 hours.
- Friday's Bustang Route 700, from Denver to Glenwood Springs, with pick-ups at 5:40 p.m. at Denver Union Station and 6 p.m. at the Denver Federal Center, is canceled.
- Saturday morning's Route 701 from Glenwood Springs to Denver also is canceled.
Bustang service for the remainder of the weekend is "to be determined" based on road and weather conditions. The other line that could be impacted is the late Sunday afternoon run from Union Station to Fort Collins.
Protecting Trees & Shrubs:
Tony Hahn of the Swingle Tree Company said the heavy wet snow could take a toll on evergreen trees and shrubs and on flowering fruit trees, like crab apples and blossoming pears.
"They're loaded with flowers and they're just going to collect the snow," he said.
Hahn said the best way to protect trees and shrubs from damage is to prune them regularly.
He said if you haven't had a chance to do so, you may want to go out periodically during the storm and shake the snow off the branches.
"You can use a pole pruner, or a long paint stick and just reach up and shake it off," Hahn said. "If you have a rope with a sand-filled ball, you can throw the rope up in the tree and see if you can get it high enough and then pull on the rope."
He said spraying water is also an option, but "be careful of ice."
The tree expert said if you see tree damage in your yard after the storm, watch out for downed wires.
"First and foremost, be concerned about wires," he said. "Any wire whatsoever, be it phone or cable, has to be considered energized, because it could be touching an energized wire."
Hahn said the same thing applies to a metal fence.
Miscellaneous events being affected by the storm:
Prairie View High School's prom night is now happening on April 30 due to the weather. The 27J School District in Brighton Colorado tweeted the information at around noon. Prairie View is located at 12909 East 120th Avenue in Henderson.
Highland High School's promo for Saturday, April 16, was also moved due to the storm. It will now be held on April 22 at the Ft. Collins Senior Center from 8 p.m. - 11 p.m. After-prom celebrations will still be at Fly High Trampoline Park. That's information coming from the Weld RE9 School District.
Grandview High School's prom has been postponed to May 21.
Gateway High School's prom for Saturday, April 16, at the Denver Aquarium was also canceled Saturday, an official with the Aurora Public Schools District announced late morning. The school is working to reschedule the prom at a later date.
Abraham Lincoln High School's prom for Saturday, April 16, was also postponed. No information about when the prom will be rescheduled or where it will be taking place, was released.
All Denver Public Schools events after 2 p.m. were canceled Saturday due to weather.