Winds of up to 98 mph hit Front Range |

Winds of up to 98 mph hit Front Range

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Skiers and riders braved the elements as high winds and blowing snow made for white-out conditions at times atop Montezuma Bowl at Arapahoe Basin Tuesday, Dec 30, 2008. The Colorado ski resort opened the bowl, which rises to an elevation of 12,472 feet, for the first time this season. (AP Photo/Mark Fox, Summit Daily)
AP | Summit Daily News

DENVER ” A collision of a high and a low pressure system over the Rocky Mountains produced wind gusts of up to 98 mph along the Front Range, knocking out power to thousands of homes, ripping off shingles and tree branches, and toppling Christmas lawn decorations.

National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Leszcynski says sustained winds were between 40 and 60 mph overnight Tuesday with the strongest gusts happening in areas north and northwest of the metro area.

The strongest gusts of 98 mph were observed at Carter Lake 45 miles northwest of Denver in Larimer County. Leszcynski said the ripped shingles were reported in Broomfield.

Xcel Energy spokesman Tom Henley says about 28,000 customers in the foothills close to Denver were without power at some point Tuesday.

He says the outages started at about 4 a.m., but most customers were back online by noon. Only about 1,000 customers were still without power at 5:30 p.m.

Colorado Springs officials reported hundreds of calls about downed tree branches, and oversized loads were restricted on Interstate 25 between Fort Collins and the Wyoming border because of wind.

At a park surrounding Wheat Ridge City Hall west of Denver, elements of the city’s Christmas display were toppled over, including an oversized snowman and two reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh.

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