Early Thursday morning, Leah Mulkey heard a loud crash outside her house on the 800 block of Tucker Street.
When she looked out her window, she saw several surprised-looking children on their way to school, and a large tree — her neighbor’s — stretched across the street in front of them.
While Mulkey and her friends spent the day cutting up the tree into logs and cleaning their yards, other Craig residents also felt the effects of a spring storm that could end with 4 to 8 inches of snow on the ground today.
Rolling blackouts from downed power lines and falling tree limbs affected electricity in the Yampa Valley.
As of Thursday afternoon, Yampa Valley Electric Association officials reported power had been restored to Craig. However, as of 5 p.m. Thursday, 500 residences in outlying areas such as Hamilton, Lay, Elkhead, Hayden and Breeze Basin were without power.
YVEA Operations Manager Bill Caynor said heavy, wet snow caused several brief power outages and blinks starting early Thursday morning.
After resolving several outages in the Steamboat Springs area, Caynor said YVEA is concentrating its resources in the Craig, Hayden, Breeze Basin, Hamilton and Lay areas.
“We normally don’t get this wet, heavy snow,” Caynor said. “It seems like every time we get something back up, we get another call.”
Caynor said the weight of the snow forced power lines down to the ground or to slap together.
Tree limbs weighed down by snow also have fallen on power lines.
However, if high winds come through the area as forecast, Caynor said the gusts could clear snow from trees and off power lines.
“We’ve got a lot of wire down and guys are getting bogged down in certain areas,” Caynor said about his crews, which worked mostly Thursday night in Moffat County. “The damage we’ve had is pretty much what we’re going to have, but we have to get caught up with it.”
He said YVEA intended to have power restored to everyone before this morning.
A winter storm warning was in effect in Northwest Colorado until 6 a.m. today.
Four to 8 inches of snow is expected to fall in Craig, with expected highs today in the 20s or 30s.
National Weather Service Forecaster Aldis Strautins said a Pacific cold front stalled over western Colorado, focusing the moisture over Craig and surrounding areas.
Strautins said the mountains in Northwest Colorado could see more than 8 inches, however, after the cold front moves through, cool temperatures will make for lighter snow, easing the burden on power lines.
The forecast for Easter weekend includes two more storms to pass through the area before Tuesday, bringing more precipitation and wind to Craig.
Strautins said it’s not unusual to see a lot of moisture in April.
“It’s really not out of the ordinary to get these spring storms,” he said.