KUSA – The snow has stopped falling in the aftermath of a blizzard that pummeled much of Colorado Wednesday, but life has not yet returned to normal for most of the state.
Numerous major highways remained closed 24 hours after the storm began. Most of them reopened as of Thursday afternoon after crews rescued stranded drivers and removed abandoned vehicles.
Most Denver metro area school districts have canceled class due to concerns stemming from the thousands of homes that are still without power.
Here’s a look at the day two impacts of what meteorologists are referring to as a historic storm:
Xcel Energy calls in reinforcements to help restore power
As of Thursday morning, roughly 80,000 Xcel customers were still without power. During the peak of the storm, Xcel said 400,000 customers were impacted in some way.
Xcel called efforts to restore full service a “multi-day event,” and that in addition to the 500 workers who were dispatched Wednesday, another 150 reinforcements are headed to Colorado from other parts of the country.
Dangerous conditions and road closures are hampering some of Xcel’s efforts, and because of the blizzard’s impact in neighboring states, recovery could take longer.
For updates and a look at the location of the outages, look at the Xcel outage map: outagemap-xcelenergy.com.
Wednesday’s high winds knocked over numerous trees throughout the Denver metro area and downed power lines. Those repairs are expected to continue for days.
Closures extend more than 24 hours on major interstates
Dozens of abandoned vehicles led to more than 24-hour closures on major highways throughout Colorado.
But, by around 2 p.m. Thursday, most of those roads had reopened. During a conference call, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced that Interstate 70 has reopened from the Kansas state line to the Denver metro area, and I-76 is back open as well.
Interstate 25, which was closed from Lone Tree to Colorado Springs for a time, has since reopened large stretches, including between Castle Rock and Monument, and between Wellington and the Wyoming State Line.
In Elbert County, travel is still strongly discouraged. All county roads there are expected to remain closed until at least Friday morning.
Numerous other safety closures are also in place for much of the state: bit.ly/2VYeKAP
The adverse road conditions that closed the highways also led to numerous stranded drivers. In Douglas County, school buses picked up drivers who were forced to abandon their vehicles along I-25. They brought them back to their cars Thursday morning, and officials estimated that at least 60 vehicles remained abandoned on the side of the side.
More than 700 people spent the night in shelters in Douglas County Wednesday. Many of them had become stranded and had to leave their vehicles behind.
Farther east, a snowcat rescued drivers who became stuck in the blizzard conditions near Elizabeth and Franktown as the blizzard hit Denver.
Peña Boulevard – the main route to Denver International Airport – became what was essentially a parking lot for hours on Wednesday, leading to a safety closure as crews worked to clear cars from the road.
Travel delays continue as thousands spend night in airport
Virtually all of the flights into and out of Denver International Airport were canceled due to blizzard conditions on Wednesday. Those cancellations persisted into Thursday morning.
In a tweet, the airport said it distributed blankets to the people stranded in the terminals.
The first flight to depart the airport since what’s been dubbed the “bomb cyclone” began its icy grip on Colorado took off at 8:20 a.m. Thursday. That was Frontier Airlines Flight 64, which was headed to Cleveland, if you’re curious. The airport’s six runways have also reopened following the storm. They were all closed on Wednesday.
The airport says a bulk of the flights will resume by about noon. According to tracking website FlightAware, 703 flights into or out of DIA have been canceled at this point.
Peña Boulevard, while open, remained icy.
“If you’re flying out to DIA, please give yourself plenty of time,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said during a news conference Thursday morning. “Let’s treat today at Denver International Airport like it’s one of our high-travel holidays.”
Videos shared by 9NEWS Reporter Jon Glasgow showed the check-in line for United Airlines snaking around the terminal."There are thousands of upset, confused and frustrated passengers," he wrote.
More than one snow day for most Colorado kids
Class was canceled for the second day on Thursday due to what many districts said were persistent power outages and safety concerns about getting to and from school.
The state’s largest district – Denver Public Schools – canceled class on Wednesday night. Other large districts, including Cherry Creek Schools, Jeffco Schools, and Adams 12, also followed suit.
You can find a full list of closures here: www.9news.com/closings
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