'Pueblo got smoked': Late spring snowstorm knocks out power to thousands in Pueblo

·3 min read
A young peach tree (center) in a clearing in southwest Pueblo sags under the weight of the snow Saturday
A young peach tree (center) in a clearing in southwest Pueblo sags under the weight of the snow Saturday

This report has been updated.

Thousands of homes and businesses in Pueblo were expected to be without power until late Saturday evening, and a large outdoor event was canceled as a late spring storm dumped heavy, wet snow on the area as it moved through Colorado.

"Looks like a 10 p.m. estimated restoration time for Black Hills Energy customers," said Julie Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the company, which supplies power to the city of Pueblo and parts of Pueblo West.

"There was more damage to our system than anticipated with the ice, heavy wet snow and tree branches," she told The Chieftain.

Black Hills reported 5,688 outages in its service area Saturday morning. More than 2,600 were in northeast Pueblo, nearly 1,600 in the northwestern part of the service area, and 1,455 in southwest Pueblo, the power company's website showed.

By 5 p.m.,Black Hills' website showed significantly fewer confirmed outages n in Pueblo, about 300 outages in Cañon City, and none at all in southwestern and southeastern Pueblo.

But a resident of southwest Pueblo said she was still without power, and the battery on her husband's oxygen concentrator was running low. Black Hills was informed of the continuing outage and said they had made the couple's address "a high priority."

More: Day two of CHSAA track and field championships postponed due to weather

A map on San Isabel Electric's website showed numerous outages had been reported in its service area, which includes Beulah, Colorado City, Pueblo West and Rye. A spokeswoman for the company, Paris Daugherty, told The Chieftain Saturday morning that 2,700 customers were without power.

"Our crews have been out there since the snow started falling at around 2 a.m., working as quickly and safely as possible," Daugherty said.

Many homes and businesses should expect to be without power all day, the company said on its website.

"We will not be able to provide an estimated time of restoration until conditions improve and lineworkers have inspected all areas to ensure all damage has been identified," the company said.

San Isabel Electric covers "a huge service area and we're a rural electric company, and many times, there aren't roads to the area our guys have to get to, so they have to hike in or drive snowcats or snowmobiles in," Daugherty said.

"Keep warm thoughts for them but let them do their jobs. Don't approach them, even with a warm drink. Leave them alone and do not distract them — it's dangerous work," she said.

Daugherty did not immediately respond to a request for updated outage numbers Saturday evening.

Motorcycle rally in memory of slain CSU Pueblo student postponed

Although the snow had stopped in Pueblo by early afternoon, the sixth annual Vialpando Vicla motorcycle rally was postponed.

Only the last stop of the rally, which raises money for scholarships in memory of Isaiah Vialpando, a sophomore at Colorado State University Pueblo who was shot and killed in 2015, will go ahead at Classic Q's restaurant on S. Prairie Ave., said Vialpando's father Robert Cordova, who is one of the event's organizers.

"I've had calls from New Mexico, the Western Slope, Arizona, asking if we're still having the rally, and I said, 'No, Pueblo got smoked,'" he said.

When he and other riders who were in Pueblo for the rally were out on their bikes at 10 p.m. on Friday, "It was coming down like mad," Cordova said.

A new date for the rally has yet to be decided, but it will be held later this year, he said.

More: Vialpando motorcycle rally, Pivot Energy fund Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation scholarships

Karin Zeitvogel can be reached at kzeitvogel@chieftain.com.

This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Snow knocks out electricity to thousands in Pueblo