Snowstorm Arrived Late But Made Good On Promise For Historic Piles Of Snow

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As an RTD light rail train waits at a stop, pedestrians cross Welton Street in downtown Denver as a major snow storm moved up the Front Range on Sunday morning, March 14, 2021.

Updated 7:30 p.m.

The late-season winter storm that pounded Colorado’s Front Range Sunday dropped 24.1 inches at Denver International Airport, enough to make the storm the fourth-largest in the city's history

The National Weather Service reported 36 inches of snow in Nederland, 24 inches in Arvada and 23.5 inches in Evergreen.

“This is one of those storms that we don’t see too often," said Weather Service meteorologist Jim Kalina, adding that the snow should taper off overnight.

Denver Public Schools has canceled classes — no remote learning, either — for Monday, as have other districts including Poudre and Adams 12.

The heavy, wet snow bent over trees in Fort Collins. A car hit a transmission line, KUNC reports, which contributed to power outages for more than 25,000 Xcel customers in the Greeley and Fort Collins area. More than a thousand customers were without power in the Denver region.

The storm brought plenty of moisture with it from the Gulf of Mexico, said Weather Service meteorologist Frank Cooper.

"It has a very high water content, which is good for the water table and the drought," he said. "But it's bad for people trying to shovel it."

That sloppy snow made travel impossible in some places too. Colorado Department of Transportation closed roads across the Eastern Plains, the Front Range, and Interstate 70 between the Denver metro and Floyd Hill. RTD suspended its bus and rail service at 7 p.m. State officials urged travelers to stay put.

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Heavy wind and blowing snow turned streets and interstate highways into slippery traps on Sunday, March 14, 2021, and many vehicles could be seen stuck, or having slid completely off the road. This tow truck operator was trying to extricate a car on Pena Boulevard on the way to Denver International Airport.
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
As a major snow storm moved up the Front Range on Sunday morning, March 14, 2021, there were few pedestrians and drivers in downtown Denver on 17th Street.

“Even as the storm subsides, travel across the state will be extremely challenging on Monday morning,” Chief Matthew Packard of the Colorado State Patrol said in a press release.

Denver resident James Cook was shoveling out his car from in front of his girlfriend's home on Sunday afternoon when he decided driving home wasn't a great idea.

"I can't even see past a block and a half," he said. "I can just walk." 

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Denver resident Tommy Hogan piles snow for a quinzee in Harvard Gulch Park on Sunday, March 14, 2021.

The heavy snow makes for great packing though, as Denver resident Tommy Hogan found as he piled snow for a quinzee in Harvard Gulch Park.

"Normally, it blows off or rolls off the side," said Hogan, who added that he was going crazy sitting at home. "It's all sticking this time, which is really nice."

More than 800 flights have been canceled at Denver International Airport, and all of the airport's six runways are closed due to blowing snow and poor visibility.

Denver International Airport has closed all six of its runways because of blowing snow and poor visibility, said airport spokeswoman Alex Renteria. They will not open until Monday.

The airport is fairly empty, Renteria said, because airlines canceled most flights ahead of time. Some flights may resume later Sunday. Travelers can check their flight status here. 

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Dan Winter, of Wilmington, North Carolina, sits with his ski bags and other baggage at Denver International Airport on Sunday, March 14, 2021. A major winter storm along the Front Range caused the airport to ground all flights, and Snow, who drove four hours down from Breckenridge, said he wouldn’t be able to get a flight out until Tuesday.
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Passengers on foot with luggage struggle against the wind as they head for the Westin hotel at Denver International Airport, which kept all flights grounded because of a major snow storm moving up the Front Range on Sunday, March 14, 2021.

David Snow from Wilmington, N.C., drove to DIA from Breckenridge on Sunday morning. He said the highways were passable going 30 mph, but once he hit Denver he saw a lot of cars off the roads. His flight was canceled, and now it looks like he and his two adult children traveling with him will have an extended stay in Denver.

"By the time they canceled the flight, we couldn't get into anything until Tuesday," Snow said.

He said it's not too terrible and they have a hotel. But he had to find a ride because all the hotels with shuttles had been booked.

CPR's Hart Van Denburg contributed to this report.