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Record Snow Hits Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Causing Mass Power Outages

Record Snow Hits Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Causing Mass Power Outages
A person crosses a snowy street in Denver, Colorado on March 14, 2021. Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images

A massive storm dropped feet of snow across Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska over the weekend, knocking out power for tens of thousands of customers and grinding air and ground transportation to a halt.

Cheyenne, Wyo., saw nearly 26 inches by noon Sunday, breaking its record for two-day snowfall, and Denver saw its fourth-most snow since 1881 — more than 27 inches at Denver International Airport, and approximately two corgis in Lincoln Park. In Aspen Park, nearly 20 inches of snow fell in just four hours.

Human-caused climate change increases air and sea surface temperatures, creating more favorable conditions for extreme precipitations events. Unlike the mass blackouts in Texas last month which caused catastrophic failures across the grid and gas system, the outages caused by the wet, heavy snow are primarily caused by downed transmission lines and power is expected to be restored much more quickly. The storm will not be sufficient to alleviate the drought affecting nearly all of the state.

As reported by The Denver Post:

People who still have power should make preparations in case they lose it, said Jennifer Finch, Weld County spokeswoman. Keep medical devices and phones charged, she said, and if food must be cooked before eating it, cook it now.
"Be prepared," she said. "Pull out the blankets and hunker down in one interior room in the house."
Power outages are possible all along the Front Range, the National Weather Service say[s], because heavy snow can bring down tree branches onto power lines or accumulate on the lines themselves.
Energy providers warned people to stay away from downed power lines and to assume any downed line is energized.

For a deeper dive:

The Denver Post, The Washington Post, The New York Times; Drought: The Denver Post; Climate Signals background: Extreme precipitation increase

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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