City caught off guard, set back by May snow

City caught off guard, set back by May snow

There’s a mess to clean up in southern Colorado after parts of the area got upwards of a foot of snow. 

City plows weren’t ready for this magnitude of a storm. 

Colorado Springs Public Works and Maintenance Division Manager Corey Farkas said that when it snows one inch per hour, crews can barely plow the roads in time for them to be covered again. Monday night, the snow fell at a rate of three inches an hour, and crews couldn’t keep up. 

Additionally, because of the heavy, wet snow, trees toppled over, branches broke and debris scattered everywhere. 

Crews estimated an inch of snowfall in Cimarron Hills, and about a foot in northern El Paso County.  

Farkas said all their meteorologists predicted just a few inches of snow, and they were not staffed or prepared for the storm.  

Tiny twigs and big branches litter Colorado Springs parks, streets, and yards after they couldn’t hold the weight of the snow that fell.  

“Last night the road got away from us,” Farkas said. “Mother Nature won. I don’t think anyone was expecting this level of snow to come in, yet it did.”

Because it’s so late in the year, city plows weren’t ready. 

“We de-winterized all the trucks,” Farkas said. “We are getting into paving season. Our plows were off, our sanders were off.” 

Early in the day, some city parks were closed due to downed trees and debris. 

“The damage to our infrastructure, our tree infrastructure, was pretty amazing,” said Dennis Will, the Colorado Springs City Forester.  

City forestry crews are working overtime and will be for a while, immediately focusing on debris blocking roads and sidewalks. 

“That cleanup will literally take months,” Will said. “Everything we had planned for this summer is out the window because of the 12-hour storm.”

Will encourages you to not take care of tree branches yourself, because it can be dangerous.  

“With branches that under a snow load, the snow hasn’t melted off or fallen off, that weight is like a trebuchet, if you know what that is,” Will said. “That’s a machinery that’s spring loaded. As soon as you cut some of the fiber in a trunk or branch that is spring loaded, that weight will release and that branch will spring back. That the difference fallen stuff, the springs loaded stuff much more dangerous.”

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