Afterwards

Judging by another beautiful day, one wouldn’t have thought Colorado was in the middle of a raging blizzard three days ago.

The priority after the blizzard ended was reopening I-25 between Colorado Springs and Denver. It involved removing 300+ vehicles stranded between Monument Hill and Tomah Road, southbound on the interstate and another 100+ northbound. During the overnight, from Wednesday into Thursday, road crews were able to clear northbound I-25 to provide early access to emergency vehicles only. The interstate reopened late Thursday afternoon.

birds eye view of abandoned vehicles southbound I-25 between Monument Hill past the Greenland Ranch exit towards the Tomah Road exit farther back
photo credit: Douglas County Sheriff’s Department (via AccuWeather)

closer view of abandoned vehicles through the southbound I-25 construction narrows, about a mile south of the Greenland Ranch exit
photo credit: Douglas County Sheriff’s Department (via AccuWeather)

Three days later, many are still trying recover, especially on the eastern plains. One drift across a rural highway, east of Colorado Springs, was so tall, CDOT had to cease trying to clear it from the roadway on Thursday. Numerous ground blizzards in the area covered up what they had cleared away. On Friday, CDOT made headway against the drift with calm wind conditions. They did not give any time estimate on when that rural highway would reopen. The more rural county highways and roads on the eastern plains may have to rely on Mother Nature for their snow removal.

The coming week is forecasted to be calmer.

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Blizzard

Another week, another winter storm. Not exactly.

a blizzard cometh

It began as a wind-driven, cold rain before becoming a powerful blizzard working its way through Colorado. Heavy snowfall. Winds in the 40-55 mph range, gusting to 65-70 mph. Zero visibility. Temperatures dropping from the lowers 40s in the pre-dawn hours to the upper 20s at midday. The blizzard is being driven by a strong, cyclonic low-pressure system which rapidly intensified (bombogenesis) on Tuesday. The central pressure of the storm has been measured at 969 millibars, comparable to a Category 1/Category 2 hurricane. Conditions similar to this winter storm last occurred in 1972.

With calving season in progress, the JN Ranch made preparations to shield their cattle and new calves from the weather. The herd was moved into a semi-wooded area on their winter range. Along with repositioned hay and water stock tanks, bedding hay was added to supplement the ground cover to turn the area into a more sheltered, drier one.

cottonwoods bending in the wind

 

a view to the woods

Fortunately, we only received around an inch of snow, most of it wind blown. There were moments visibility was reduced to near zero. With the hospital opting to curtail operations, Laurie and Andrea had a snow day. They used the day to catch up on their homework.

Definitely, a day to stay inside.

iced over

 

A few notables

  • strongest wind gust, statewide, reported at COS airport – 97 mph
  • barometric pressure of the storm center – 969 millibars
  • I-25 between COS and Denver – closed
  • I-70 between Denver and the Kansas stateline – closed
  • I-70 westbound Denver into mountains – closed in spots; extreme avalanche danger
  • stranded on the road – too many

Warning: Blizzard Ahead

On their drive in to work, early this morning, Laurie and Andrea saw the blizzard warning on the status board. Kind of hard to turn around and come home when they were only two blocks from work. Yes, they did think about it.

The blizzard began last night. First, it started as rain before 11:00 pm. With a strong north wind blowing, the temperature dropped rapidly from 40°F/4°C to 28°F/-2°C in less than 10 minutes. The rain turned to snow, and anything wet likely flash froze into ice. The snow began falling heavily.

overhead security light (North Ranch, Jan 21 2019)

barn security light (North Ranch, Jan 21 2019)

For about an hour, it had every appearance of a very dangerous blizzard. The visibility from the wind-driven snowfall was reduced to a few feet.

Just before midnight, the heavy snowfall eased. The wind, though, continued into this morning and early afternoon. Our total snowfall from this storm, about two inches.

Two nights, two displays of nature. Tonight’s feature, cold temperatures around 5-10°F/-15 to -12°C.

Snow Daze

It was a forecast that was not missed, nor disappointed.

generic snow photo

With nearly 8-10 inches of snow, and drifts taking shape through the overnight, it was an early start to clearing the driveway. The plan was to drive Laurie and Andrea to work, and pick them up, like yesterday. A snow drift had formed around the Expedition, with the largest portion across the front end. After an hour of digging, about half the drift was shoveled away – and yet not knowing if there was any snow under the hood.

Nearly ready to start the Expedition after clearing the snow away from the exhaust, a bundled-up Laurie came outside and said her and Andrea had a snow day. Good enough. Also, the girls had another snow day with campus remaining closed, and all scheduled classes and activities cancelled for the day. All the school districts are closed for another day. And, much of the region is rather quiet as many businesses are closed, or on reduced hours.

generic snow photo

The snow has pretty much coated everything. No power interruptions, or flickering lights. All that remains is a cold, north wind and clearing away the snow.

The winter storm is now across Eastern Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa. In blizzard form, the storm is nowhere nice as the name, “Kayla“, The Weather Channel has given her.

Time to tackle those drifts.

 

Update

@16:10 MT – The snow total, up the amount to the 10-12 inch range. The four-foot drift that was in front of the garage door at 5:00 am reshaped itself into a solidly-packed two foot version. Also, the garage was reshuffled where all of our vehicles are indoors. The other deep drift was 3½ feet at the front steps. The larger drift of five feet is at the storm door into the backyard. We may need Mother Nature to cut it down to size. Another two inches of additional snow is expected tonight. Overnight temperatures are expected to be in the -5 to 5°F range.

Easy Like Sunday

When it is like this outside …

you do this …

Miss Pinky under her futon

 

The winter storm took it’s time arriving, but it got here late Saturday afternoon. It laid 3½ inches of snow in about an hour’s time.  Underneath the snow is a sheet of ice from the “wintry mix” we had for most of the day. Today, it has been snowing all day – alternating between light snow and heavy snow. The snow is expected to end sometime after midnight with the possibility of snow flurries for most of tomorrow. By the time everything moves on, we should have 6-10 inches of snow. And, it’ll be cold through next weekend.

It seems Mr. Groundhog has made himself scarce for now.