Blizzard ripple effects rain down on Glenwood
Post Independent Staff
Semi-trailer truck rigs were stacked up from Rey Motors to the Interstate 70 off-ramp in West Glenwood Springs Wednesday morning, so Larry Lucas parked his rig in the Glenwood Springs Mall parking lot instead.
“There wasn’t any place else to park, other than the shoulder,” Lucas said, as he unscrewed the lid of a gallon of antifreeze, then leaned over his diesel engine and poured it in. “I don’t know if I’ll get run off here.”
Lucas was one of more than 30 truck drivers who pulled off in Glenwood Springs after hearing on their CB radios that I-70 was closed at Frisco.
The door on Lucas’ red Kenworth says “Circle S Transport,” and lists Oklahoma City, Okla., and Williamsburg, Va., for its hometowns. Lucas was headed from California to his home in Virginia with a load of dairy products when Tuesday’s Front Range blizzard threw a roadblock in his travel plans.
Lucas has been a truck driver for 32 years, and has driven I-70 through Colorado many times before. He figured the interstate would be closed the rest of the day, so he was spending his immediate time working on his truck and cleaning it up a little.
His rig was parked with seven others in the mall parking lot’s southeast corner. Glancing over at the nearby Los Desperados restaurant, he said, “After cleaning my truck I’ll go take a shower … and go to the bar.”
The blizzard, predicted several days ago by the National Weather Service, moved across Colorado from the east, but started sputtering out between Vail and the Eisenhower Tunnel. The snows didn’t touch Glenwood, but sent a ripple effect felt in some parts of town. Postal workers were apparently affected the most.
“We’ve got a skeleton crew,” said Glenwood Springs postmaster Jon Dunbar. Not much meat was needed on the post office’s bones, because no mail made it in from Denver Tuesday night.
“We got a little from Grand Junction, but that’s all we had to deliver,” Dunbar said.
Mid-afternoon on Wednesday, at least two trucks of incoming mail were still stranded somewhere between Denver and Glenwood Springs. As for outgoing mail, most of it was being routed through Grand Junction.
Dunbar said he doesn’t expect any problems when I-70 clears enough to allow mail trucks to deliver their loads again. “I think we can handle it,” he said.
If the mail couldn’t make it in, many travelers couldn’t make it out. A sign at the Greyhound bus station behind Village Inn said all trips were canceled until Thursday.
Inside Village Inn an hour before the lunch rush, Justin Mathis, a food production manager, said a couple of customers said something about being stranded in Glenwood, and a couple more said they were flying out of Grand Junction rather than Denver International Airport.
“Other than that, we haven’t had a whole lot stranded people,” Mathis said. “We expected it to be busy, but it’s been an average day.”
Next door, the Ramada Inn was receiving cancellations from Front Range residents who couldn’t make it over due to the blizzard. Stranded travelers were picking up the slack. Hotel manager Claude Masson said that between the cancellations and unexpected arrivals, business was about the same. The biggest difference was the 11 a.m. checkout time was extended for guests who were waiting for I-70 to reopen.
“We are being flexible on that point,” Masson said.
Other lodges reported their cancellations were for the most part offset by stranded travelers.
Restaurants all over town were not getting any deliveries from Denver, but at Buffalo Valley it wasn’t a problem. “We have plenty,” said restaurant manager Susie Wigger.
This is the second week of spring break, a time when Front Range residents hit the Sunlight Mountain Resort slopes and soak in the Hot Springs Pool. Wigger said it’s “hard to say” whether the blizzard has hurt her business.
Groups of 20 or more, including church groups, are a big part of Sunlight’s spring break business. Spokesperson Sheila Barber said the I-70 closure didn’t stop any groups from arriving. “They are all here,” she said. “I think everything will be OK.”
Barber said one group planned to leave Wednesday but couldn’t. “So they stuck around and skied another day.”
Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534
Why the blizzard of ’03 missed Glenwood
This week’s blizzard, which dumped up to two feet of snow on parts of Denver, missed Glenwood Springs for a couple of reasons, said U.S. Weather Service meteorologist Becky Klenk.
The storm blew up from the Gulf of Mexico, then across Colorado from the east. Mountain ranges east and south of Glenwood Springs, extending as far south as the Sangre de Cristos, protected the city from the storm.
The weather service predicted the storm several days ago. “Winter storms are more organized, with bigger systems, than thunderstorms,” Klenk said. “So they are easier to track.”
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