One of the biggest snow storms in Colorado’s history walloped Nederland and the Front Range of Colorado. On March 17, 2003 the snow started falling and didn’t stop until two days later when anywhere from 5-8 feet of snow fell over foothill towns, including a whopping 87.5 inches in nearby Rollinsville.
The storm of March, 2003 was a classic up slope storm with tons of moisture funneling up from the Gulf of Mexico combining with the cold air coming from the North. This particular storm stalled over the area and it snowed for three days, wreaking havoc throughout the Front Range. Even cities on the plains were snowed in with parts of Denver receiving over 30 inches of snow. The incredible snow storm stranded many mountain residents, leading them to find creative ways out of their homes. Our friends, Susan and Steve, had to find an ingenious way to get their daughter Anne to a doctor in town when her eardrum ruptured. Their doctor told them if they could find a way to get her to town, he would meet them there to see her. Being that their house is in the hills above town, they packed her into a toboggan and using cross-country skis, towed her down into town.
The heartiness and community spirit was evident throughout the storm. Look no further than the B and F Market’s community barbecue. When the market lost power, and realized its perishables would spoil, they put on a barbecue in the parking lot and invited anyone who could figure out a method into town — by skis, snowshoes, snowmobile, toboggan — to partake of a free meal. Good thing they were able to put it on in the parking lot as the Community Center was no longer a viable option, because its roof had collapsed from the weight of the rapidly accumulating snow.
You would have thought the one business who would have welcomed the mega snowstorm was the local ski resort, Eldora Mountain Resort. But avalanches along Eldora’s access road closed the ski resort and stranded resort employees as well as the few hearty skiers who had made it up there before the road closed. They were stranded for almost three days until plows and rotaries could clear the slides. Fortunately, they were able to at least keep them fed by putting up people at the resort’s cafeteria.
Though it was an upslope storm, it packed such a wallop, that other ski areas along the Continental Divide such as Winter Park, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin also received anywhere from 4-6 feet of snow. Even the wildlife had difficulty getting around, with the elk in Rocky Mountain National Park resorting to following the path of least resistance following the snowplows down the road, leading park employees to dub it the “cow plow.”
So even though we had summer-like temperatures this past weekend, Nederland residents who have been around awhile know that things can turn quickly. Though the calendar says spring is just around the corner, March and April are prime time snow months for foothill towns, when our next big snow storm is just around the corner. We only have to look back 12 years ago to know, that any time in spring can produce yet another historic snowfall.