Vicious “Snowmageddon” Invasion Targets Teller County

Ute Pass region slammed, but area escapes storm wrath unscathed

~By Trevor Phipps and Rick Langenberg~

Teller County and the Ute Pass region couldn’t escape the latest wrath from Mother Nature due to an invasion from the Pacific area, and the “Snowmageddon” results weren’t pretty.

Our area’s snow count from an early February storm knock-out punch, exceeded many Colorado ski resorts, as the worst-case predictions of weather experts were right on target.

Still, local leaders say local residents handled the first major bombardment of the year quite well and have credited much cooperation from area citizens and maintenance workers.  However, it took a number of days for the area to recover from the latest winter beating.

When the last storm came cruising into Colorado, many meteorologists even admitted that the characteristics of the storm would make it hard to predict. Even though weather forecasters saw some sort of stormy activity headed to the state, they didn’t know what areas would get hit the hardest or know how much moisture certain areas would receive.

When it got closer to the weekend (around Feb. 2 and 3) when the storm was slated to strike, forecasters still gave estimations that were all over the place. Some thought that Teller County would just experience a dusting, while others warned of a possible “Snowmageddon.”

And as it turns out, the Ute Pass region got riddled with much more snow than was originally anticipated. The storm came in a bit earlier than expected on Feb. 2 and then snow continued to fly into Sunday morning.


Most official snow results put the towns of Teller County including Cripple Creek, Divide, Florissant and Woodland Park at around a foot of snow over the weekend. However, local sources claim that the snowfall numbers in certain areas of the county could have been much higher.


According to Colorado Springs news stations, areas in the rural parts of the county near Cripple Creek received as much as 22 inches of snow. Teller County Commissioner Dan Williams said that road crews reported close to three feet of snowfall in certain sections of the county.


Other reports indicate that the lower Ute Pass communities, such as Cascade, Green Mountain Falls and Chipeta Park, also got riddled with excessive snowfall. Most businesses in Green Mountain Falls were closed during the weekend and some reported nearly two feet of snow in parts of Cascade.

In fact, on Saturday (Feb 3) in the lower Ute Pass, the only sure way to travel was by taking a snowmobile or using a dog sled team. Many residential roads were untouched, forcing folks to trek through several feet of snow if they wanted to get out.  Abandoned cars could be spotted that couldn’t make the journey up some of the area’s steeper hills. Most locals, though, chose to stay inside.  However, a few canines, who got a chance to experience the latest local version of “Snowmageddon,” had a field day.


And the surprising part of the latest storm: Teller County for once received some of the highest snow totals statewide. During most storms this year, the Ute Pass region has seemed to miss the brunt of the snowfall, but this time around the area received more snow than higher mountainous regions in central Colorado.


The snow totals in Teller County were on average about twice as much as cities on the Front Range like Colorado Springs and the Denver Metro area. Mountain towns that normally get hit with heavy snowstorms seemed to get skipped this time.

Places like Breckenridge and Aspen only received around 10 inches of snowfall, according to Denver news reports. Steamboat Springs which is known to be a hotspot for snowstorms only received a three-inch dusting over the weekend.  Monarch Pass, which was closed during an earlier storm in January for a lengthy period, hardly got touched, according to a newspaper distribution driver for TMJ. The driver reported conditions much worse along Hwy. 24 in the Teller County area than in the more mountainous sections of the state, known for big snow storms this time of year.


During the two-day storm, the northeast part of the state missed most of the action with Evans, Colorado reporting less than an inch. Crested Butte, though, proved to be the big winner with two feet of snow recorded. Crested Butte has been pummeled this year with snow.

No Major Accidents or Injuries

Luckily, the storm went pretty well locally without any major incidents. But, according to Teller County Sheriff Lieutenant Renee Bunting, there were a number of car accidents over the weekend forcing at least one road closure.


Teller County Search and Rescue posted on social media that they were active most of the weekend helping find and rescue stranded motorists.


County Officials Support Snow Removal Efforts


According to Bunting, before the snowstorm hit, the county commissioners got together with a plan to provide support for the county’s maintenance workers. The county made sure that the road workers had what they needed to stay out and keep the roads safely plowed.


Over the weekend, Teller officials made shout-outs on social media to thank the road crews who worked around the clock to keep the roads plowed. Commissioner Williams also personally gave credit to the maintenance workers that worked hard to keep all of the equipment running when something broke.


“It was the biggest snowstorm we have had in a while,” Williams said. “It was really eye watering to see that everyone from first responders to city snowplows were all very cooperative. Erik Stone made burritos for them (snowplow drivers) at three o’clock in the morning, Bob Campbell made chili for them and we all went and fed them. There was a snowplow stuck by my street, so I went and brought them food.”


He said that it was nice to see the community get together and deal with the heavy snowfall. “It was a total cooperative effort and we got lucky,” Williams said. “People pretty much listened to us and tried to stay off the roads. We had 14 plow drivers out and every piece of equipment we had was out. But as quickly as we moved it, it kept growing.”


He said that most of the county was plowed by the time most businesses opened on the Monday after the storm. But some crews were still working on certain areas through a several-day period, following the storm. Although temperatures warmed up after the main brunt of the storm, conditions were still difficult for several days, with roads freezing up at night.


With El Nino making its grand return this year, the recent snowstorm could be a sign of much more to come especially in the spring when the region tends to get the most snowfall. According to news reports, Pueblo has already broken a record for the most moisture in February with the one storm on Feb. 3.