Just as the warm weather seemed to stick around a little bit too long with an extended Indian summer, Mother Nature hit the entire Rocky Mountain region hard during a pre-Halloween snow invasion, marking the first major storm of the season.
The blizzard, which struck as October ended, riddled the state with abundant snowfall numbers.
However, the Ute Pass region shockingly experienced relatively low snow levels compared to certain parts of the state and even the local region. Overall, the storm that received much hype prior to its arrival proved to be hit or miss across southern Colorado.
Some places in the region experienced a foot of snowfall, while others barely got six inches. However, the first storm of the pre-winter season still caused excessive traffic complications on Colorado roadways, and posed challenges in Teller County and in the lower Ute Pass.
The storm, coming from the north, was initially predicted as one that would bring high snowfall to the mountains in the central part of the state, but leave the Front Range and parts of northern and southern Colorado unscathed.
These predictions from weather forecasters were pretty accurate.
Teller and the Ute Pass were expected to receive about five to eight inches of the white stuff depending on the exact location. In the end, the highest levels recorded in the county were in Woodland Park, where snow levels reached nearly seven inches.
Other parts of the county, however, saw much less. According to data from the National Weather Service (NWS), parts of Divide only had a mere 2.8 inches of snow. Towns in other Colorado regions, such as Montrose and Stratton, only experienced a mere inch of snow.
But the storm did provide significant moisture numbers for other parts of the state, including many mountain resort towns that welcomed the snow’s early arrival to ease the opening of ski resorts for the 2023-2024 season.
In fact, all of the major ski towns in central Colorado saw snow totals for the pre-Halloween weekend of more than 14 inches, which could give the ski season a much-wanted jump start. Prior to this date, the ski resorts were staring at a delayed opening due to the excessive warm fall temperatures they experienced for an extended period. Eldora and Loveland Pass were on the low end, receiving 14 inches of snow, while Crested Butte reached 19 inches, and Breckenridge and Copper Mountain got slammed with the 16-plus inch mark.
Other places in the Pikes Peak region also had to push more snow out of the way of traffic than Teller County. For example, the Broadmoor area, as well as Security, were bombarded with more than a foot of snow.
And actually, the storm has been considered as being quite significant across the state. For the month of October, many parts of Colorado have reached numbers that rank in the top ten of most snowfall on record for the entire month with just one snowy event.
Colorado as a state was even recognized by national football announcers as the Air Force versus Colorado State college pigskin battle was coined the first “snow bowl” of the season. The duel took place in the evening on October 28, when the storm started developing with a quick fury across parts of the state. Others predicted that the Denver Broncos game against the Kansas City Chiefs would also be affected by adverse weather conditions and snow.
But by the time the NFL’s AFC West Division rival match took place, the field was clear and only remnants of snow could be seen. The storm though, did douse the state with super-cold temperatures, especially compared to normal October conditions.
Temperatures dropped to levels in Teller County that forced schools in both Cripple Creek and Woodland Park to operate on a two hour-delay on October 30. Temps got down to nearly zero degrees Fahrenheit on the night of Oct. 29 and into the morning of the Oct. 30.
On the downside, the low temperatures forced the cancellation of a heavily touted and anticipated 2023 Halloween Battle of the Bands grand finale, hosted by the Crystola Roadhouse (see related story). This event was delayed due to safety reasons, according to a Facebook post by the Crystola Roadhouse.
Early Snowstorm Causes Multiple Traffic Accidents
Despite escaping the brunt of the storm, the region still got hit with its share of accidents, resulting from the first major storm blast of the pre-winter season.
Even though the storm wasn’t slated to bring significant snowfall to the region until late Saturday (Oct. 29) evening or early Sunday, local residents and motorists were warned, via social media reports, of “black ice” conditions on the Ute Pass between Cascade and Manitou Springs.
Travelers said they experienced their cars slipping and having trouble around the winding curves. The conditions resulted in multiple accidents on the roadways in the Ute Pass region.
At one point on Saturday morning, there was an accident that involved nearly a dozen vehicles with some sliding into the creek running down the Hwy. 24 median. As a result, the highway was shutdown eastbound just east of Cascade for more than an hour.
Other accidents caused just one lane to be open heading down Ute Pass to the Front Range. At one point on that Saturday morning, eastbound traffic on Highway 24 was backed up from east of Cascade to the Green Mountain Falls exit.
One resident said that it took them more than an hour to drive from Divide to Manitou Springs to attend the annual Emma Crawford Coffin Races.
There were also numerous other accidents across the roadways of Teller County and nearby. However, despite the first snowstorm plaguing new resident drivers that weekend, there were no significant traffic-related injuries or deaths reports during the season’s first major blizzard.