A Boulder County Sheriff's vehicle blocks US 36 westbound at Table Mesa during a snowstorm  Thursday morning.
Photo by Paul Aiken / The Camera /
Paul Aiken
A Boulder County Sheriff’s vehicle blocks US 36 westbound at Table Mesa during a snowstorm Thursday morning. Photo by Paul Aiken / The Camera /

BOULDER, Colo. –

For students already on spring break and workers fortunate enough to get the day off, the thick blanket of snow that fell across the Front Range on Thursday may have been a welcome surprise.

But for anyone trying to get around, the relentless precipitation created a pileup of inconveniences.

“We were trying to get to Winter Park from Longmont for work tomorrow morning, but that’s just not gonna happen if another wave of this … comes through,” said Jordan Miller, who spent Thursday afternoon stranded at RTD’s Walnut Street station with co-worker Travis Hoffman.

After their car got stuck in the snow in south Boulder, Miller and Hoffman decided to backtrack to Longmont via RTD in order to plan an alternate route to Winter Park.

Unfortunately, with intermittent weather-related closures along U.S. 36, U.S. 287 and the Diagonal Highway throughout the day, the transit service â which shut down its Boulder-Nederland route entirely â was unpredictable at best.

“I don’t know how I’m getting home,” Stacie Farr said while waiting for a bus to Broomfield. “Worst case scenario, I’ll have to get a hotel or bunk with a girlfriend who lives in Boulder â assuming she can get back home from her job.”

RTD spokesman Scott Reed said those stranded in Boulder by the snow may be the ones waiting the longest to get out.

“The Boulder area seems the hardest hit,” Reed said. “The biggest issue so far has been U.S. 36, because that’s an important transportation corridor.

“When it’s closed, there aren’t a lot of options.”

Many travelers, however, experienced similar difficulties trying to get back into Boulder from out of town.

“I was going to be working and going to several events tomorrow, but I highly doubt that I’ll be getting out of Greeley in the next 24 hours,” said Jennifer Newell, a University of Colorado senior visiting family while on spring break.

Other students, such as senior Nick Badami, found themselves scrambling to make alternative arrangements due to flight cancellations in and out of Denver International Airport.

Southwest Airlines canceled all of its 82 flights out of DIA on Thursday; Frontier Airlines scrapped at least 90 of 300 flights and United Airlines canceled more than 60 of its 180 flights.

“We just found out that our flight to Denver has been canceled for tonight, and the next open flight is not available until Monday,” Badami said from his hotel in Las Vegas.

With CU’s classes scheduled to reconvene the same day, Badami and his eight student friends are now springing for a rental car to make the 12-hour drive home.

Unlike Badami and his friends â who chose to leave Las Vegas early to avoid weekend rate increases â students generally don’t depart from their spring break destinations until the end of the week, CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard.

“Most students take the maximum amount of time on break before coming home, so I would venture that very few of them are trying to come back now,” Hilliard said.

But students weren’t the only travelers sidelined by Thursday’s storm.

Beth and Tim Burcham had their ski gear loaded in their car Thursday morning for a four-day trip to Steamboat with their 6-year-old daughter.

Instead, they awoke to a half-foot of snow in their Gunbarrel driveway.

“We’re bummed,” Beth Burcham said. “We only had these four days to go, and now they’re ruined.”

Steamboat Ski Resort has refunded the family’s tickets, which is good news, Burcham said. And, she said, they’re hoping the condominium they rented will do the same.

“But this has ruined our spring break plans,” she said, mentioning her daughter. “She is so sad.”

Camera Staff Writer Vanessa Miller and The Denver Post contributed to this report.

Archived comments

Get used to it people, its colorado.

vYRaL303

3/26/2009 6:45:39 PM

Last time 15 inches of snow fell on my small hometown (population 5,000) back in Missouri in 1993, our six-member street department took care of it as soon as it started falling. The town was not forced to shut down, nor were there traffic accidents everywhere. I know all of this firsthand, because I was serving on city council at the time and I spent the day with the street crews and police on patrol. People there demanded basic services like snow removal, and if they didn’t get it they wanted new people at City Hall.

I had to come to Boulder, CO to see politicians and city workers clueless about snow removal, and many citizens content with their inaction despite the costs in lost productivity and car repairs.

It’s the Forbes Magazine Curse . . .

Doc_Brinkley

3/27/2009 12:29:46 PM

What I don’t get is that when it snows heavily in Boulder – they don’t even plow the roads. Isn’t this Colorado? I really don’t get it. That’s why it’s so treacherous on the roads. I am from New England, and a plowing scheme was always put in action with heavy snowfall. Here? Nothing. One would think this would be factored in the high cost of living in Boulder? And a necessary municipal expenditure? Kind of baffling really.

seeeker

3/27/2009 4:34:08 PM