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Winter weather pounds Colorado in the first big fall storm of the season

7:10 AM, Oct 27, 2011   |    comments
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The American Red Cross set up a shelter for families who needed a warm place to spend the night until electricity is restored to their homes.

Mike Hickerson, his wife Leslie, and their 8-year-old daughter Brandi, arrived at the shelter in the late afternoon when they realized their power may not be restored until the next day.

"The trees that are broken, there's a lot of damage throughout town," Hickeron said. "I'm not taking a chance because I don't want my family getting cold."

"We have food and a place to sleep," Red Cross volunteer Patrick Mount said. "We have cots. It's not exactly a pillow top mattress, but it is a warm and safe place to spend the night."

DENVER'S BEST HOT CHOCOLATE 

Xcel Energy says there were about 58,000 power outages left as of 8:30 p.m. Xcel says at the peak on Wednesday afternoon, there were 107,000 outages and the storm affected about 140,000 customers at some point on Wednesday.

Approximately 25,000 outages are left in the Denver area, and Greeley still had about 14,000 outages Wednesday night. Authorities said about 2,000 customers still did not have power in Loveland. Many customers, including those in Loveland, may not have power back until Thursday.

"It's not as bad as it could be. We're just here so we can stay warm," Hickerson said.  

Crews are removing trees from lines and most of the power should be restored by Wednesday night. The crews are working on the big outages first and then working their way to individual homes.

"We're working on it," Xcel Energy spokesman Mark Stutz said. "It's a nightmare. This is the type of storm that most utility companies dread."

Stutz says two factors made this storm difficult: wet, heavy snow - and fall foliage.

"As you look at the trees you can see they still have the leaves on them. They're like giant snow catchers," Stuz said.

Many of the trees snapped or slumped, forcing work crews to pull them off the power lines.

"It's been more about vegetation, tree branches, trees in our lines. Probably one of the more severe first winter storms of the year," Stutz said.

Ceil Nelson, 89, lives in southeast Denver with her son Eric Nelson and his partner Craig Simms. They lost their electricity and heat at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

"It's been rough. That's what makes it rough is the no heat, especially at my age. I feel it right away," Ceil Nelson said.

They got their lights back just after 6 p.m.

If you are without power, you can find out more about the status of your situation by going to http://bit.ly/kygvop.

Because of the widespread power outages, the American Red Cross opened the shelter at Thompson Valley High School. The shelter opened around 11:30 a.m. and about a dozen people had registered by 7 p.m. Wednesday.

In Greeley, a shelter was set-up at the Island Grove exhibition building. Nobody had signed up for the shelter as of 7 p.m. Wednesday.

There is also a shelter open at the Windsor Community Recreation Center at 250 N. 11th Street in Windsor.

The snow also forced a number of businesses and schools to shut down for the day including the University of Northern Colorado. A haunted house in Loveland, the Hauntings at the Food and Grain, also closed for Wednesday night. For a complete list of closures and delays go to http://www.9news.com/weather/severe_weather/cancellations_closings/default.aspx.

The National Weather Service has cancelled the WINTER STORM WARNING for all areas.

For snow totals go to http://www.9news.com/news/story.aspx?storyid=226413.

The snow is causing difficult driving conditions in many areas. Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Stacey Stegman said numerous trucks were stuck on the shoulder in the foothills because they couldn't get traction. For a list of road and highway closures go to http://www.coloradodot.info/.

The snow is heavy and wet, causing many trees to splinter and crack. The City of Greeley opened a site where residents could drop off the branches and limbs for free. Find out more here http://www.9news.com/news/story.aspx?storyid=226450.

If you live in Lakewood, each homeowner there has contracts for trash service. Click here to learn more.

It is recommended you check with your trash provider for tree limb pickups.

Jefferson County residents can also take tree limbs and other yard waste to the Rooney Road Recycling Center in Golden. For more information, visit www.rooneyroadrecycling.org.

VIEW ROB PROCTOR'S TIPS ON HOW TO SAVE YOUR PLANTS FROM WINTER

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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