Snow, cold weather causes problems in Denver |

Snow, cold weather causes problems in Denver

Nathan Bilow/APArturo Valenzuela, right, of Mexico, removes snow from an alley for delivery trucks to pass through in Crested Butte after a snow storm left several inches of snow in Colorado's western mountains.

DENVER , Colorado ” Four inches of snow coupled with below-freezing temperatures caused ice that shorted power lines and sparked a half-dozen pole fires, leaving hundreds of Denver metro residents without power.

Roads were also coated with ice Thursday, slowing rush hour traffic to a crawl.

Xcel Energy spokeswoman Ethnie Groves said about 7,500 people were without power at the height of the outages. About 2,900 customers were still in the dark by midmorning.

Xcel officials said ice on power lines can cause outages when it melts off, snapping them and causing a phenomenon called “galloping” that can cause loose connections.

Magnesium chloride that’s used to melt ice on roads also builds up in transformers, which can lead to pole fires.

Meanwhile, about 50 miles southwest of Denver, Park County was still under a state of emergency as officials worried the new snow could undo the progress made on clearing dozens of miles of roads of ice that trapped about a 100 residents in their homes. Earlier in the week, high winds pushed snow into drifts 24 feet high.

North-West Fire Protection District Chief Mike Roll, said the state and surrounding counties used heavy equipment to clear about 150 miles of roadway. About 3 inches of snow fell overnight Thursday, which were whipped into snowdrifts.

Roll said the new snow may have undone some of their work.

Rescue teams had delivered essential items such as food, medicine and other supplies to about 45 residents.

Nearly 2 feet of snow could fall on Saguache County east of the Continental Divide and the eastern San Jan Mountains by Thursday.

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