Storm leaves thousands without power |

Storm leaves thousands without power

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DURANGO, Colo. ” La Plata County was opening two emergency shelters for residents Sunday, after power lines downed by heavy snow and falling trees left thousands of people without heat and electricity for a second day.

A storm that arrived Saturday began dumping snow that clogged roads and left thousands without power, said Butch Knowlton, director of the county office of emergency preparedness.

Two county snowplows got stuck trying to clear snow and slush.

More than 4,000 La Plata Electric Association customers were still without power Sunday afternoon, he said. Crews, including some called in from New Mexico, were working around the clock to restore power.

The storm disrupted communications for emergency responders after electrical lines serving radio repeaters were damaged, but communications were rerouted, county emergency management officials said.

Emergency shelters opened at Bayfield High School and at the county fairgrounds in Durango. Bayfield School District Superintendent Don Magill said the high school canceled a staff work day Monday, and students had not been due to return to class until Tuesday.

“We’re working to help people keep warm tonight, help those who don’t have heat,” Knowlton said.

Meanwhile, 14 search and rescue workers were looking for six snowmobilers from New Mexico last seen on Friday near 10,222-foot Cumbres Pass, just north of the New Mexico border, said Donna Oney, a spokeswoman with the Colorado State Patrol. The search was hampered by heavy wind and snow, which closed Cumbres Pass to travelers Sunday.

In Mineral County, rescuers were looking for two skiers in their mid-20s who were reported missing near Wolf Creek ski area, Sheriff Fred Hosselkus said. The men’s car, with New Mexico license plates, was found in the resort parking lot Saturday night.

Several mountain passes in southwest Colorado were closed Sunday due to poor weather. Avalanches closed U.S. 550 at Red Mountain Pass, Colorado 149 north of Lake City and U.S. 160 over Wolf Creek Pass.

Colorado Department of Transportation officials said Wolf Creek Pass was not expected to open until at least Monday.

Among southwest Colorado ski areas Sunday, Silverton Mountain and Wolf Creek reported nearly 31/2 feet of new snow in the past 48 hours, but all roads to Silverton Mountain were closed. Purgatory Mountain reported nearly 21/2 feet of fresh snow.

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