Power outages persist, some schools closed Monday long after the wind

Chuck Murphy/CPR News
Tree limbs down in Denver’s Congress Park neighborhood are among thousands brought down by high winds on the weekend of April 6 and 7, 2024

Power outages caused by the wind storm that hit the Front Range over the weekend persisted as the work week started, with over 59,000 Xcel customers without power as of Monday morning. 

As strong winds blew across Colorado’s foothills and the I-25 corridor beginning Saturday, Xcel Energy proactively shut off power to about 55,000 customers as a precautionary measure against wildfires. The company said an additional 100,000 customers had power outages sometime during the weekend due to damage to lines caused by the winds. 

On Sunday, Xcel said restoring power to affected areas will be a lengthy process. Crews were on the ground assessing damage to see if lines could be reactivated safely. Due to the scale of the event, Xcel said that process could extend beyond Monday for some.

"At current rates we expect between 80 to 90% of the outages to be resolved by tonight but will seek ways to increase that rate if there are safe ways to do so," Xcel spokesman Tyler Bryant said Monday morning.

It isn’t just homes that are without power. Several school districts have been forced to cancel classes as some campuses go without power on Monday. In Jeffco Public Schools, 16 campuses are closed, and in Boulder Valley School District, 6 campuses are closed. All other schools will remain open. 

Xcel said in a late Sunday press release it will try to communicate with customers directly impacted by power outages. It asked customers to check for damages to electric service masts, a “pipe mounted to the house through which the electric service wires run.” The company said if there is damage to the mast, a licensed electrician has to make repairs before Xcel can restore service.

Late Sunday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis encouraged residents to be patient - and avoid taking out their frustrations on Xcel workers.

“I understand everyone's frustration with Xcel's decision to cut power this weekend but please use patience and kindness to frontline Utility workers working to RESTORE power to the community.,” Polis wrote on the service X, formerly known as Twitter. “They weren't the ones who made the decision.”

Boulder County emergency managers also reminded drivers to treat inoperable traffic lights in intersections as a four-way stop. They noted that several traffic crashes were caused Sunday when people simply ignored broken signals.

“There has been a disturbing trend of individuals disregarding traffic laws, particularly at intersections with non-functional traffic lights,” the agency wrote online. “This reckless behavior has led to multiple accidents and poses a significant threat to the safety of our community. We are asking that all drivers take this matter seriously and strictly adhere to traffic laws.”