Late May snow pounds mountains

Ward gets 38 inches


Barbara Lawlor, Nederland.  Almost three feet of snow plopped onto the foothill’s mountains, bending low branches with burgeoning leaves, slushing local roads, causing slide-offs and fender benders that clogged highways heading into Nederland, and created power outages as the muck dropped trees onto power poles.

The storm came in last Wednesday night, May 17, and the full force of it continued all day Thursday, with heavy, mushy glops covering all of the fragile new aspen leaves, the hundreds of blooming tulips all over town, all flowering bushes, and barely blooming lilacs.


Bush and tree branches were caught in the buckets of cement-like sky slop that pinned them in a sodden embrace to the ground.

Although the Boulder Valley School District first put out the word that mountain schools would be delayed, by Thursday morning, Gold Hill, Jamestown and Nederland schools were closed for the day, as were Gilpin schools.


The roads had become treacherous and even four-wheel drive vehicles had a tough time gaining traction in the slimy slush that accumulated faster than local plows could remove it. Just south of the Hwy. 119, Eldora Road intersection, a steady stream of slide-offs kept law enforcement and fire department personnel busy as up to six vehicles at a time clogged the road and a few accidents added to the mess. Tow trucks had a hard time reaching the jumble of vehicles and then had a hard time staying on the road.


Too make matters worse a low cloud settled over the area adding visibility challenges to drivers. A rollover south of Magnolia Road added to the traffic problems and brought the Colorado State Patrol to the scene.

Boulder Canyon was closed on and off for much of the day due to the storm. Many mountain residents decided to declare a snow day for themselves and wait until the roads could be cleared before they ventured down the canyons.
When the worst of the storm was over on Friday morning, plowed roads were already melting down to pavement or dirt. Pine trees shed large patches of snow and roofs gushed melt out of its gutters. Green grass speared its way to the air and aspen branches sprang free of the snow’s clutches, its tiny, heart-shaped, lime green leaves intact, but we’ll see how they are feeling in the fall.


It was a record breaking snow for this day in May, but by Saturday morning, the snow was merely inconvenient.
Xcel Energy outages affected 4,500 customers but crews had been prepared and were out repairing lines as they were reported.


Memorial Day is usually considered the day to begin putting in flowers and vegetables, but given this past weekend, one might consider paying attention to a long range forecast.


(Originally published in the May 25, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.