Wild and Wacky Weather Returns to Teller High Country

Bizarre Snow Blast Cripples Travel Plans on Mother’s Day; Hurricane-like Winds Bombard Region

Trevor Phipps


Over the past couple of weeks, the Ute Pass region has gotten bombarded with it all: wind, rain, hurricane-like conditions, snow; and yes, occasionally decent bouts of sunshine when it’s time to break out the golf clubs or hit the softball fields.

In fact, many have felt that Mother Nature has not been able to make up her mind lately as the Teller County high country has experienced all four seasons in a matter of a few weeks, and sometimes days or even hours

Welcome to springtime in Teller, a time you can experience 20 inches of snow one day, 60 miles per hour winds the next, and then a picture perfect 65-degree day the following.


The wind was the first to arrive with gusts reaching over 70 miles per hour in Woodland Park and surrounding areas on a Monday two weeks ago. Then just when local residents were getting concerned about the possible fire danger on the way after warm, dry and windy conditions, some parts of the high country saw nearly two feet of snow fall in a matter of hours on Mothers’ Day, as the region earned the gold championship, or was definitely in the running, for the top snow accumulation in Colorado for a day dedicated to moms.


For the last few weeks, the weather had warmed up slightly, but the mountain springtime wind has been fierce. On the Monday before Mothers’ Day, extremely fast wind gusts riddled southern Colorado.


According to the National Weather Service (NWS) based out of Pueblo, some parts of the Pikes Peak region saw hurricane force winds on May 6 with multiple cases of property damage being reported. On the high side, the NWS measured wind gusts at 96 miles per hour on Cheyenne Mountain and 83 miles per hour at the Air Force Academy. Teller County didn’t have wind speeds that fast, but gusts up to 73 miles per hour were recorded in Woodland Park and wind gusts in Crystola reached 75 miles per hour.


The high wind speeds were quite unusual in Woodland Park and Crystola as the mountain ranges usually block the brunt of the winds. The NWS website states that wind speeds that reach 75 miles per hour can uproot large trees and cause windows to break and small mobile homes to turn over.


All over Teller County, people reported trees falling and large branches breaking off in the fierce winds. Williams Log Cabin Furniture suffered from damage to the company’s building after a large tree uprooted and landed on the roof.


According to business owner Jerry Good, he received a phone call that Monday when the furniture store was closed by someone who drove by and saw that branches had fallen on the building’s roof. But when he arrived at his business, he noticed that the situation was much worse.


“I came over and it was about a 100-foot-tall tree laying on the roof,” Good told 11 News. “It was a big, beautiful spruce tree that’s really old, and it’s really sad to lose that.”


By the next Wednesday, the tree had been removed from the roof and repair efforts had begun.


Mothers’ Day Surprise Snow Blast Commands Media Spotlight


After the brutal winds, things seem to calm down a bit as clouds rolled in and temperatures cooled for the next few days. Over Mothers’ Day Weekend, local weather forecasters called for cold and cloudy weather with relatively high chances of rain or snow flurries.


Friday and Saturday went by and not much precipitation accumulated which made people think that they were in the clear for Mothers’ Day and that the storm had passed. Some meteorologists on Saturday expected that Teller County might get a few inches of snow at most, and others just said rain and flurries were on the way.


Early in the morning on Sunday, snow started to fly in the Teller high country but at around 8 a.m., the snow had not yet started to stick to most parts of the ground and pavement. However, this would soon change has snowflakes as large as an inch in radius started pounding down to the ground making a decent amount of snow start to accumulate.


By mid-morning, most of Teller County had about six inches of unexpected, wet spring snow which forced several people to cancel their plans for Mothers’ Day brunch due to sketchy traveling conditions. The large amount of snow falling at a rapid pace caused roads to be snow packed and icy, and it seemed like plows were slow to respond to the surprise storm.


At around 10 a.m. on Mothers’ Day, an alert was sent out notifying residents that eastbound Highway 24 between Divide and Florissant had been closed. And then at around noon, the road had been closed in both directions.


Not only was the quick-arriving storm unexpected, but other parts of the state like most of Colorado Springs and cities in the Front Range only saw rain. In fact, Teller County was on the top of the list for snow totals compared to other towns all across Colorado. The snow invasion in Teller became a leading story on television news stations that night. Oddly enough, the snow didn’t really infiltrate Green Mountain Falls/Cascade and other communities in the lower Ute Pass.


According to numbers computed by the NWS, the town of San Isabel located southwest of Pueblo saw the most snow with 21 inches recorded. The town of Alma in between Fairplay and Breckenridge received the second-most snow with 19 inches measured.


Parts of Woodland Park saw 14 inches of snow and areas in Divide got 16 inches of snow fall just in a matter of a few hours. By the afternoon, the snow had stopped and the sun came out. Highway 24 was reopened just before 2 p.m.


According to The Weather Channel, the forecasts this week show that Woodland Park will be mostly sunny, in the low 60s for temperature and wind speeds are slated to stay at around 15 miles per hour. The weather is expected to stay the same for the next week. The only chance of moisture is this Friday with expected afternoon thunderstorms on the way and a 36 percent chance of precipitation.