Colorado wind storm slows down Sunday, but widespread power outages could be in place through Monday

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A windmill water pump on a ranch near Keota in the Pawnee Grasslands in Colorado’s Eastern Plains.

The gusts of wind that hit Colorado’s Front Range and Eastern Plains Saturday are expected to weaken Sunday, but power outages for tens of thousands of Xcel Energy customers continue indefinitely.

The National Weather Service has canceled High Wind Warnings for much of the Interstate 25 corridor, including the Denver metro area, Boulder and Fort Collins. Strong winds of up to 80 mph will persist Sunday in the foothills, parts of the Eastern Plains, Colorado Springs and Pueblo — although the wind in the Southern cities is expected to die down by noon.

While winds are getting weaker on the Front Range, high fire danger is still present. Wind gusts are unlikely to reach the heights of Saturday, they will still be strong enough to quickly spread fires that could ignite from warm temperatures and dry conditions.

As of Sunday morning, Xcel Energy crews were assessing damage to the electric system caused by extremely high winds. 

Xcel Energy said over 155,000 customers have had electric service turned off from a combination of proactive public safety shutoffs and power outages caused by damage from the high winds. The utility company said the restoration process could be lengthy due to the scale of the event. 

“Crews are assessing damage now and will begin working to restore power in these areas after winds have died down. More than 600 miles of lines were proactively de-energized, and before power is turned back on, our crews will need to visually inspect the lines to ensure it is safe to do so,” said Tyler Bryant, an Xcel spokesperson. “With more than 150,000 customers without power due to this weather event, this restoration process will take time and may extend into Monday, April 8 or longer.”

Xcel customers impacted by power outages have largely been left in the dark. Wheat Ridge resident Julianne Stern and her family had power cut out at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday and she doesn’t know whether it was from a downed power line or a proactive shutoff. Since then, she hasn’t received any follow-up communication from Xcel.

“It just feels like I have no idea when my power is going to come back on,” she said. “So I'm just kind of left guessing.”

Xcel said it informed the 55,000 customers who were part of the planned shutoffs that their power would be cut off proactively. The company also said the customers who lost power from wind damage should have been informed through text, email or the Xcel app.