Colorado snow updates for March 14: Latest totals show 17″ of snow in Fort Collins

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Those calling this weekend’s snowstorm a bust on Saturday were forced to rethink their position Sunday.

After a slow start to the much-anticipated storm, the low pressure fueling the storm lumbered closer to the southeast corner of Colorado on Sunday, bringing with it heavy snow that closed major highways, snapped tree branches and created blizzard conditions across the northern Front Range.

After more than 11 inches of snow fell overnight in Fort Collins, and much more in places, the National Weather Service called for 6 to 8 inches of additional snow Sunday for much of the northern Interstate 25 corridor, which closed between Wellington and the Colorado-Wyoming border.

The wet, heavy snow and increasing winds forced the closure of other roads, including U.S. Highway 287 from Ted’s Place to the Colorado-Wyoming state line, U.S. 85 from Nunn to the state line and Colorado Highway 14 from Ault to Sterling.

Colorado National Guard troops were mobilized near Wellington to help rescue motorists stranded by the storm.

Snowstorm central:A roundup of forecast updates, preparation information and more

A winter storm warning remains in effect until 6 a.m. Monday.  

Looking for updated snow totals? You can find them here. 

Thousands still without power as nightfall nears

Poudre Valley REA restored electricity to more than 3,000 customers Sunday, but 4,300 remain without power as nightfall nears in its service area. The rural electricity provider said via Twitter that “near-whiteout” conditions and treacherous roads made the work of restoring power arduous Sunday.

Fort Collins Utilities showed only a handful of outages at 5:45 p.m. Sunday, while Xcel Energy showed about 60 outages in the Fort Collins and Wellington areas.

Latest snow totals: 17 inches of snow in Fort Collins

The latest National Weather Service snow totals from the weekend’s storm show 17 inches of snow in Fort Collins, 18 in Loveland, 17.4 in Timnath, 22 in Estes Park and 27 on Horsetooth Mountain.

Those totals are from Sunday morning, so slightly more snow from Sunday afternoon is likely to bump up the figures.

Closures due to snowstorm

Here’s a list of closures in Larimer County. The list will be updated with major closures:

  • City of Fort Collins offices are closed Monday, including all city programming, recreation centers, the Timberline recycling center and Transfort bus service.
  • Colorado State University is closed Monday, including remote classes.
  • City of Loveland offices are closed Monday, including the recreation center, library, courts, museum, Rialto Theater and COLT bus service.
  • Weld RE-4 (Windsor and Severance) School District will be closed Monday.
  • Front Range Community College campuses will be closed Monday. Remote classes will go on as planned.
  • Larimer County government, the district attorney’s office and courts will be closed Monday. Critical services will not be disrupted.
  • State of Colorado government offices in Denver and surrounding suburban counties will be closed Monday. 
  • Denver International Airport runways are likely closed until 6 p.m. Sunday.

Avalanches on Poudre Canyon Highway

Small avalanches have been reported on Colorado Highway 14 west of Rustic, according to a Twitter post by the Larimer Emergency Telephone Authority. The road is closed from Ted’s Place to the county border on the west. Residents in the area are urged to use caution.

Residents start digging out, but snow keeps surging

Across the county, many residents stuck close to home and began the strenuous work of digging a path from their homes to the outside world.

“I just shoveled a little strip right here, and my back’s already feeling it,” Windsor resident Kelly Steele said while starting to clear the snow from his driveway. Steele said while he was hoping the snow would go around the area after Saturday, he was grateful for the precipitation it brought to the drought-stricken area.

But once residents reached the end of their driveways, snowpacked roads, drifting snow and downed tree branches made further progress treacherous.

Power lines downed by snow-snapped trees caused outages in Fort Collins and Wellington. Fort Collins Utilities, Xcel Energy and Poudre Valley REA all reported sporadic outages across their service areas Sunday morning.

Across Poudre Valley REA’s service area, roughly 7,200 customers were without power for portions of Sunday.

“Poles are down, cross arms broken, and substantial tree damage. Accessibility is limited in adverse conditions. Crews are restoring power as safely and quickly as possible,” PVREA posted on Twitter. 

Colorado Department of Transportation officials on Sunday said anyone attempting to return to the Front Range from the mountains would find travel “extremely challenging” and advised motorists to postpone travel until Monday, when conditions are expected to improve.

Power outages:How to track and report power outages during Fort Collins’ snowstorm

“We ask motorists not to let their guard down; today’s conditions are worse than yesterday,” CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said in a news release.

The arrival of spring break limited the snow’s impacts to area schools, as Poudre and Thompson school districts are both on break this week. Weld RE-4 schools in Windsor and Severance canceled classes and activities scheduled for Monday.

Colorado State University officials said they would make a determination about Monday classes and campus operations by 5:30 a.m. Monday.

– Miles Blumhardt and Eric Larsen

Blizzard warning issued for Larimer, Weld counties

A blizzard warning is in effect for Larimer and northwest Weld County, including Fort Collins, Loveland, Wellington, Greeley and Windsor. 

Larimer County emergency officials sent out reverse 911 calls and text messages to residents just after noon Sunday. The warning is in effect until midnight. 

Additional snow accumulation of 2 to 6 inches with storm totals of 14 to 24 inches is expected throughout Sunday, according to the alert. Wind gusts could be as high as 45 mph. 

More:‘Do not travel’: Blizzard warning issued for Larimer, Weld counties

– Jennifer Hefty

Snow leads to power outages throughout Northern Colorado

According to Fort Collins Utilities, some residents are seeing intermittent flickering of power throughout the city. 

“High winds may impact transmission lines and create flickering lights and brief power interruptions. Most of the time, there is no need to report flickering lights unless power remains out for more than a few minutes,” according to the city’s website.

Across Poudre Valley REA’s service area, roughly 7,200 are without power.

“Poles are down, cross arms broken, and substantial tree damage. Accessibility is limited in adverse conditions. Crews are restoring power as safely and quickly as possible,” PVREA tweeted. 

The city of Loveland said multiple power outages were reported Sunday. Three crews have been dispatched and are working to restore power, according to a Twitter post from the city. Residents may also have issues with phone and TV service due to tree limbs hitting service lines. 

Rocky Mountain National park expands road closures

Rocky Mountain National Park officials closed U.S. Highway 34 at its western Grand Lake Entrance on Sunday morning due to worsening weather conditions. U.S. 34 and 36 were already closed on the park’s east side due to earlier winter weather, and it’s likely the routes will be closed for multiple days due to drifting snow and low visibility.

Colorado Department of Transportation officials said anyone attempting to return to the Front Range from the mountains will find travel “extremely challenging” Sunday and advised motorists to postpone travel until Monday, when conditions are expected to improve.

“We ask motorists not to let their guard down; today’s conditions are worse than yesterday,” CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said in a news release.

Motorists are advised against seeking alternate routes along major road closures, as less-traveled roads are likely to be covered by slick or drifting snow.

CDOT said it is likely to close sections of the Interstate 70 mountain corridor and I-25 South Gap construction zone between Castle Rock and Monument depending on the severity of the storm, along with I-70 east of Airpark Road and other Eastern Plains roadways.

Plows are active along I-25 and I-70. Drivers are reminded to avoid passing plows and give them ample distance to work.

– Eric Larsen

Tree damage reported from heavy snow

Heavy snow accumulation is damaging trees across the Fort Collins area, as snow is piling up on branches and testing their strength. The National Weather Service in Boulder posted on Twitwarning people to watch for downed branches and falling limbs.

– Eric Larsen

Colorado snow totals

Here is an early look at snow totals through early Sunday morning from the National Weather Service and the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network:

Wellington: 14 inches

Loveland: 12-15 inches

Estes Park: 14 inches

Campion: 13.5 inches

Berthoud: 12 inches

Fort Collins: 11-15 inches

DIA: 11 inches

Longmont: 10 inches

Boulder: 9 inches

Denver: 6 inches

Allenspark: 12 inches

Nederland: 14.5 inches

Ward: 20.5 inches

Jamestown: 11 inches

Conifer: 10 inches

Tabernash: 17.5 inches

Colorado Springs: 5 inches

Crested Butte: 44.5 inches

This developing story will be updated throughout the day Sunday.

Reporter Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports — you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at milesblumhardt@coloradoan.com or on Twitter @MilesBlumhardt. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.