Surprising Blast Paralyzes Region and Shocks Residents
This time, there was no escape from the late spring storm menace, as a surprising snow blast blanketed much of Teller County last week.
And again, the forecasters got it wrong; only now, they vastly under-estimated the strength of the storm.
Last month, it was reported that local meteorologists missed their target when they called for two feet of snow and the area didn’t even get over six inches.
Last week, the local forecasters predicted a small rain and snow storm that turned out to be more major than they thought.
In the end, parts of the Ute Pass region saw about a foot and a half of heavy, wet snowfall. The area also received an unusually large amount of rain between last Wednesday and Thursday, with four inches of rain bombarding parts of the Pikes Peak area within a 24-hour period.
Teller County residents did though start bracing for the worst last Wednesday when the National Weather Service started issuing alerts for dangerous weather activity. The first alert that came across warned the region of a tornado watch during the afternoon and evening hours.
Another alert then hit shortly after putting the area in a severe thunderstorm warning. Some reports said that parts of Teller County could receive quarter-size hail during the vicious storm.
At one point, many on social media posted about a tornado that was spotted about eight miles south of Florissant. But, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office’s Public Information, Officer Renee Bunting, said that she could not confirm if a tornado ever did touch ground within the county.
During the day on Wednesday and well into the late night hours, the county received large amounts of rain that caused puddles on roadways and threatened flooding conditions. The rain also caused at least one major rock slide on Hwy. 24 between Manitou Springs and Woodland Park that resulted in one lane being closed.
A Surprising Snow Invasion
But then early Thursday morning, residents were shocked when the excessive rain of Wednesday quickly turned into snow. Many fell asleep to foggy and rainy conditions on Wednesday night, and then woke up Thursday morning and discovered six inches of snow.
The snow continued off and on during the day last Thursday. Another round of moisture then struck the area late Thursday night and early Friday morning.
By Friday morning, many residents woke up to over a foot of fresh snowfall. According to local news stations, Divide was bombarded by 18 inches and Woodland Park received 17 inches by Friday morning.
The storm shut down a number of government offices and canceled meetings, including that of the Teller County Commissioners. Plus, a scheduled ground-breaking ceremony for a new trade facility for the Cripple Creek and Victor School District was canceled and rescheduled for this Thursday. In fact, even the Cripple & Victor Gold Mine was impacted by last week’s snow invasion and was closed on Thursday.
Bunting said that the sheriff’s office was inundated with calls about traffic accidents during the day on Thursday and into Friday morning. But she said that the amount of accidents started to decrease by Friday afternoon once much of the snow started to melt.
The heavy snow did cause branches to break and power lines to go down. Many power outages were reported across the county during last Thursday and Friday. The Walmart in Woodland Park even announced that they would be closing their doors last Thursday due to the power outages.
Residents are still trying to dig themselves out and deal with the struggles to get phone, electric and internet services again.
Click here to view more photos of the snow storm taken by Cindy Valade