‘Slow moving’ winter storm brings dangerous travel conditions, closes Front Range schools

Hart Van Denburg
Snow blankets the University of Colorado Boulder campus on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.

Updated at 7:25 a.m. on Feb. 2:

A slow-moving winter storm has unleashed snow and below-freezing temperatures on millions of residents along the Front Range, causing widespread travel delays and school closures. A winter storm warning remains in effect for most communities in and around Denver and along the I-25 corridor statewide.

The storm dumped more than 8 inches of snow in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins overnight Tuesday. Commerce City logged around 11 inches. The National Weather Service expects the winter weather to hang around for most of the day Wednesday. 

“It’ll be a prolonged, mainly light snowfall with a cold air mass in place,” said Robert Koopmeiners, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder. “It'll create havoc for travelers.” 

The snow totals make the storm the largest the Front Range has seen so far this winter. After getting off to a slow start, January brought above average snowfall for the Denver metro area and other communities. Forecasters hope this week’s storm helps improve widespread drought conditions in the state. 

Most state government offices along the Front Range, including the Colorado State Capitol, are closed Wednesday.

Airlines cancelled more than 100 flights out of Denver International Airport, with more expected. The Colorado Department of Transportation reported icy and snow-covered conditions along I-25, I-70 and other major Front Range roadways. 

The agency advised drivers to avoid travel if possible through Wednesday morning. 

“Especially cold temperatures will create unsafe situations should a traveler encounter a hazardous situation or be forced to remain in an unmoving vehicle for periods of time,” CDOT said in a statement. 

Denver Public Schools and other major districts cancelled classes and extracurricular activities, citing the weather. 

Xcel Energy, Black Hills and other gas and electric providers reported a limited number of outages, however. 

The storm’s impact stretched along the entire I-25 corridor. The Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs saw 12 inches of snow overnight. Some mountain communities west of Boulder saw more than 10 inches. 

High temperatures for most communities are forecast in the mid-teens Wednesday. The storm is expected to move through the region by Wednesday evening. 

CPR’s Paolo Zialcita contributed reporting.