SAN LUIS VALLEY— After a couple weeks of overestimated precipitation, a series of heavy, wet storms delivered more than two feet of snow on Tuesday, March 12. Except for snowplowing and shoveling by hand, many activities were cancelled for the day.
The Creede School District and Upper Rio Grande School District C-7 cancelled classes and sporting events. Meetings large and small throughout the Valley were also put off for another day. The South Fork Town Board postponed their ribbon-cutting ceremony at the South Fork Visitors Center, as well as the regularly scheduled meeting to follow the celebration.
According to South Fork Chief of Police Coty Arthur, “It has been OK here, but we’re supposed to be getting a bigger storm coming through.” Arthur estimated easily more than two feet of accumulated snow, a wet sloppy slush. With flakes dousing windshields and inconsistent slipperiness under tires, driving risks increased in South Fork.
“We’ve been running the slow crawl through town with our lights on,” Arthur noted, using patrol cars to emphasize caution for motorists.
Arthur also mentioned being ready to help in different capacities. “We’ll jump on a plow if we have to,” Arthur promised on behalf of himself and his staff. “We’re on standby. We’ll wait and see.”
Power went out at 3 a.m. on Tuesday in parts of South Fork, returning intermittently throughout the day until being fully restored.
“We just got our power back on,” Arthur announced over the phone while his radio indicated another downed power line requiring attention. The San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative (SLVREC) communicated outages and fixes throughout the day, primarily on Facebook.
In Del Norte, intermittent power interruptions began after midnight and continued to mid-morning. Snow continued to accumulate until temperatures rose into the 40s and runoff melting began.
By midafternoon on Tuesday, SLVREC reported restoring all substations. But they cautioned against impending outages because heavy snowfall continued to threaten lines and poles. Considering more snow, the risk persisted. All crews, according to the cooperative, were deployed through the storm.
Starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, snow resumed falling as temperatures dropped in Del Norte. The Del Norte Fire Department prepared trucks and cleared snow from the station in anticipation of the storm’s next wave.