Winter passes through, causing problems

QUICKREAD

Early snow, but not earliest — by a long shot

• The 0.8 inch of snow Tuesday night broke the Grand Junction record for Oct. 27, according to the National Weather Service. The previous record was a trace of snow.

• The snow fell about three weeks earlier than the average date for the first measurable amount in Grand Junction: Nov. 17.

• The Weather Service begins measuring snowfall at 0.1 inch.

• The two most recent dates Grand Junction received measurable snowfall this early are Oct. 26, 2006, 0.2 inch; and Oct. 24, 1997, 0.5 inch.

• The earliest snowfall date on record for Grand Junction is Sept. 18, 1965. On that day, 3.1 inches of snow fell.



An winterlike storm continued to threaten the area this morning after plowing into town with snow and frigid temperatures that caused power outages and snarled traffic.

Snowfall of 0.8 inch Tuesday night broke the Grand Junction record for Oct. 27. Snowfall on Wednesday was 0.9 inch as of 5 p.m. The record for Oct. 28 is 1.3 inches in 1991.

The snow caused numerous problems throughout Mesa County, including:

Slick driving conditions, which caused a truck to crash into a light pole on North Avenue.

Below-freezing temperatures, which caused a waterline break in the 500 block of North Avenue.

Power lines that were downed by tree branches, which   were weighted by snow. That caused intermittent blackouts for some customers on Orchard Mesa, north of Grand Junction and in Plateau Valley.

“My power had been going on and off and off and on probably at least five times,” Collbran resident Becky Sheley said Wednesday morning.

Where she lives, in the 64000 block of 60 1/2 Road, the elevation is around 7,600 feet.

“We have a foot of snow,” Sheley said.

Mesa County snowplows were fired up early Wednesday and dispatched to all corners of the county, said Eric Bruton, director of Mesa County Road and Bridge.

The storm should blow out of western Colorado by this afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

“For the Grand Valley, I think we are out of the strongest part of the storm,” said John Kyle, a data acquisition program manager for the Weather Service. “I do not see us getting anything like a couple more inches here.”

The Weather Service predicts warmer temperatures and sunshine for the weekend and next week.

The rest of Colorado was whipped Wednesday by the storm, which was expected to be the strongest October snowstorm in Colorado in 12 years. More than 2 feet of snow fell on parts of the state.

The worst punch hit the Grand Valley early Wednesday, when a pickup took out a power pole on North Avenue. As a result, 4,082 Xcel Energy customers lost power. The blackout began at 1:42 a.m. and power was restored at 2:47 a.m., Xcel spokesman Fred Eggleston said.

Workers remained on site, making repairs, until 10 a.m. It was not the only outage workers had to address.

“We have about a dozen outages (Wednesday) morning because branches have gotten down onto the power lines,” Eggleston said.

Those branches were holding more snow than normal because many had not yet shed their leaves, said Bill Byers, spokesman for Grand Valley Power.

The heavy, wet branches are why customers such as Sheley were having their power pop on and off, he said. The branches weighed on lines and caused the equipment to shut itself down, as it was designed to do, which prevented larger and longer power outages, Byers said.

“We think there were approximately 1,500 customers affected from the outage,” he said.

Of that number, around 1,100 live in Orchard Mesa, a couple hundred on the north side of Grand Junction and 75 or more in Collbran, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


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