Mountains slammed with mashed potatoes

Barbara Lawlor, Peak to Peak. A two step storm descended on the mountains on Friday, April 15th. It was a night of a slow moving, wet storm that hovered over the mountains, dumping about two feet on the Nederland, mid-Gilpin area. The skies cleared briefly Saturday afternoon, but left the roads slimy and slick, causing many slide-off accidents. Businesses cleared sidewalks and contractors cleared parking lots. Just when things were beginning to look good, the second storm came in Saturday night, adding about another two feet to the mix.  Snow continued on and off through Wednesday. A great weekend is expected.

On Saturday afternoon, every customer who walked into Crosscut Pizzeria was greeted with a loud volley of cheers and a standing ovation. Having no clue what was going on, some of them stood in the doorway with a silly grin on their face; some of them bowed and some of them just looked behind them in a “Who, me?” way.

A group of fun-loving Nederland residents was cheering for anyone who had faced the two-foot challenge of venturing out of their homes and heading downtown.

The storm dropped in on Friday night, a stalled system that clobbered the area with heavy, moisture-laden clumps of snow that, because of the warm temperatures, began compacting almost immediately.

Residents knew it was coming, and on Friday customers swarmed the grocery store as folks stocked up on water bottles and staples, pet food, and chocolate.

Spring storms like this often take out power lines as overladen tree branches crack and land on the cables. In preparation for the possibility of power outages, Xcel employees deployed utility trucks to Nederland, where trouble shooters took turns camping out at the Nederland Community Center, to be up here if the power went out.

One of the workers said this has become protocol in the event of heavy snowfalls.

The roads were slushed slime, causing many spinouts. An accident on Hwy. 119 south of Magnolia Road resulted in a woman being transported to the hospital and the road being reduced to one lane for about an hour.  Timberline Fire Protection District, Nederland Police Department, and Gilpin Ambulance responded to the scene. The road defied 4WD and studded snow tires, making caution and turtle pace speed the only way to avoid skidding into trouble.

A rollover on Magnolia Road, at “Deadman’s Curve,” was just one of several accidents at that location in the past month.

There were many ditch dives as snow pulled vehicles into the shoulder of mountain roads.
There was a brief reprieve on Saturday afternoon, like the eye of the hurricane, and then the snow came down in earnest. By Sunday afternoon, some areas, such as Pinecliffe and Magnolia Road, reported up to 50 inches, while roads were slammed with another two feet of snow.

Many businesses were closed as business owners decided to attend to digging out.

Although lights flickered a few times in Nederland, the power never went out. There was one power line down, north of town, near Ward, and crews were on top of it immediately.

The accumulation between Saturday and Sunday morning broke Boulder’s record snowfall for April 17, which was 8.2 inches set in 1968. Although certain areas in the mountains reached a total of over four feet, the snow began compressing and melting almost immediately. Plowed roads were soon dry, shoveled walks melted to dirt. Clumps of snow cascaded down pine branches exploding in snow bombs on roofs.

A group of kids that had dragged their sleds up the hill next to the RTD parking lot were disappointed that the snow was too wet, too sticky and too deep to get a good run going.
Light snow or rain was predicted for Monday or Tuesday but warm temperatures will keep it from accumulating and the melting process will accelerate with temperatures in the 70s by Thursday.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.