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Power-line repair crews busy after snowstorm

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Bill Ford, owner of Doc Ricketts Tree Service, takes down a tree Friday in Hermosa that was damaged by snow. Ford said the tree was falling down in slow motion. The storm caused widespread power outages.

By Dale Rodebaugh Herald staff writer

Crews worked until late Friday afternoon to restore power to customers after Thursday’s snowstorm left more than 3,000 homes in the dark.

Some of the widespread outages were triggered Friday as melting snow brought down more branches. Trimming crews were out all day Friday taking down menacing limbs and problem trees, said La Plata Electric Association spokeswoman Indiana Reed.

The hardest-hit area Thursday in Durango was the west side, where 2,327 customers lost power from the Crestview, Delwood and Columbine neighborhoods, east to Main Avenue and north to Trimble Lane, Reed said.

On the east side, 1,039 customers northeast along Florida Road past Edgemont Ranch lost power Thursday, Reed said.

Sporadic outages may have started in the early afternoon Thursday, but the main blow came around shortly after 5 p.m.

“All power failures were due to downed limbs,” Reed said. “Trees still have leaves and the wet snow pulls them down.”

The Pagosa Springs area was the only one spared Thursday. But there was a minor outage in Pagosa on Friday.

Local weather watchers reported as much as 5 to 7 inches of snow from the storm.

Bill Butler in the Rafter J subdivision measured 5.1 inches.

“It was not a record for October storms I’ve recorded,” Butler said. “But it was unusual.”

When he lived in Durango West II, he found 8.1 inches on Oct. 29, 2009, Butler said.

Pam Snyder in Hesperus had 6.02 inches of snow Thursday afternoon, which produced 1.11 inches of water.

“There was a smattering of snow this morning,” she said Friday.

Sandy Young, who lives on Florida Mesa five miles south of Farmington Hill, measured 0.81 inches of water.

Capt. Adrian Driscoll with the Colorado State Patrol in Durango, said troopers had no major incidents Thursday related to inclement weather.

Colorado Department of Transportation crews were ready for snow, agency spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said Friday.

“Our guys expected it,” Shanks said. “They monitor 16 sources for weather information.”

In the lower elevations, where the storm cleared out about 2 a.m. Friday, plow crews pushed slush off streets until the wee hours, Shanks said.

The storm hung around until 7:30 a.m. at higher elevation where road crews found 18 inches of snow on Red Mountain Pass, 10 inches on Coal Bank Pass and 9½ inches on Molas Pass, Shanks said.

There was a foot of snow on Hesperus Hill on U.S. Highway 160 west and at Rockwood on U.S. Highway 550 north, Shanks said.

Tire chains were required for all commercial vehicles on Highway 550 passes starting Thursday morning, Shanks said. The requirement was lifted at 10 a.m. Friday for Coal Bank and Molas passes and at 1 p.m. for Red Mountain Pass.

Reed said that LPEA customers can receive information about outages if they register a telephone number with the cooperative. Each customer can register up to three numbers, she said.

Customers can be frustrated if they change a telephone number or switch from a land line to a cellphone and don’t notify LPEA, she said.

In those cases, the LPEA system doesn’t recognize the number as that of a customer and doesn’t respond, Reed said.

LPEA urges customers to be ready for winter weather, Reed said. Preparedness includes having a flashlight, extra batteries and a portable radio handy, keeping the pantry full, storing firewood and making sure that medications and first-aid supplies are available, Reed said.

Long range, the National Weather Service map shows clear days and nights into Tuesday, with high temperatures in the mid- to high 50s. But a forecaster said that rain could return Tuesday and again next Friday.

daler@durangoherald.com

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