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Colorado: Hurricane-force winds in the high country

More snow on and off the next few days; Loveland Pass remains closed Sunday afternoon, only minor delays in the I-70 corridor


A downed tree block Snowshoe Circle in the Peak 7 area, near Breckenridge, Colorado. PHOTO BY JENNEY COBERLY.

A wind-splitered power pole near Breckenridge, Colorado.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The first impulse of the weekend winter storm roared across the Colorado high country with hurricane-force winds, snarling roads, downing trees and knocking out power for a time Saturday night.

Near Silverthorne, resident Ken Hollis said he lost a 90-f00t-tall evergreen in his backyard up on the slopes of Buffalo Mountain.

Via Facebook, Claudia York reported:

“Power out on Hwy 9 at Tiger Road for 4 hours last night. Two big lodgepoles down at DNR Kennels along the bike trail. The wind picked up a heavy bench off my porch and threw it into my garden plot. Crazy night with no snow!”

Stephen Catterall from Breckenridge (via Facebook):

“Tree down at Gold Camp condos on Ski Hill Road. Just missed a classic Toyota Land Cruiser.”

Downed trees blocked both ends of the this road in the Bill's Ranch neighborhood, but the trees were removed early Sunday morning. PHOTO BY KATE HUDNUT.

National Weather Service spotters reported gusts of 115 mph in Frisco and Breckenridge, and an automated weather site near Berthoud Pass reported sustained winds of 86 mph before the anemometer broke. Loveland Pass and Kenosha Pass also saw gusts of up to 100 mph. Wind speeds reported during the storm are online at this National Weather Service website. From the Bill’s Ranch neighborhood, near Frisco, Kate Hudnut reported:

“We lost two trees and a swing set in our yard in Bill’s Ranch. Lots of trees down in the neighborhood but we have not heard if any houses were damaged.”

Bill’s Ranch residents commented that the trees being knocked down are trees that were still alive, rather than beetle-killed trees, probably because many of the live trees are standing singly, exposed to the wind, and the live boughs create a sail against the wind.

Kally Kuhlmann said her neighborhood up on Buffalo Mountain lost power 5 times in a two-hour period early Sunday morning.

I-70 was closed at Georgetown Saturday night, but re-opened early Sunday morning. Loveland Pass remained closed as of 9 a.m. Sunday. Get road reports at http://www.cotrip.org.

More real-time weather info streaming on Twitter at the #cowx hashtag.

The storm didn’t deliver huge amounts of snow, with isolated readings of 6 inches across parts of the northern mountains and 5 inches at Loveland Pass. Copper reported 3 inches, and Steamboat (opening Nov. 23) reported 7 inches at mid-mountain.

A second wave of moisture was moving into the area Sunday morning, with snow expected to continue across the high country through the evening.

This story is being updated, check back for more details.

More photos of downed trees in the Wildernest Area, courtesy Ken Hollis:

A storm with 115-mph wind gusts knocked over trees in Summit County, Colorado. PHOTO BY KEN HOLLIS.

Wind-throw in Summit County, Colorado. PHOTO BY KEN HOLLIS.

Wind damage from a storm with 115 mph gusts in Summit County, Colorado. PHOTO BY KEN HOLLIS.

Wind-damaged trees in the Wildernest area, Summit County Colorado. PHOTO BY KEN HOLLIS.

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4 Responses

  1. Two days of 100+ mph winds in High Country from Summit County to Berthoud Pass, with serious damage in places along the Front Range and Continental Divide.

    • Do you have any links to reports of serious damage?

      • There were several injuries from flying tree branches in towns along the front range, and a number of scattered power outages, Boulder had several wild fires yesterday when winds picked up around noon resulting from downed power lines, several high profile vehicles were blown over between Boulder and Longmont, Trees blew over hitting a number of cars and houses. Many mountain roads are still blocked by large downed trees. The thing is there was so much high wind in so many varied areas it is a bit difficult to assess all of the damage at this point. But this is Colorado, we recover quickly.

        Reports range from NWS pages, to local town newswires.

      • Gold Hill neighborhood, lots of damage

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