Snowed in! Colorado’s infamous blizzard of 1997

The blizzard of October 1997 was one of the most destructive and costly natural catastrophes in Colorado’s history of big storms. Following an extremely dry summer, the storm caught many Coloradans off guard. The resulting floods and mudslides caused havoc to homes, roads and businesses across the state. In all, the storm caused more than $1 billion in damages and caused the deaths of more than 30 people.

For several days leading up to the storm, a low-pressure system had been brewing over the southern part of Colorado. On October 20th the system finally burst into a full-fledged snowstorm. Heavy snow began falling across much of Colorado early in the morning, and would continue throughout the day. When all was said and done, some areas were covered with more than two feet of snow while others were blanketed with several inches of ice.

The most severe impact of the storm was felt by Denver in Colorado, where the conditions of whiteout made travel almost impossible. Roads quickly became impassable as abandoned vehicles piled up in drifts. Public transport was at a standstill when buses sank into snowbanks and trains derail due to ice on the tracks. Schools and businesses were closed for the day, as people hunkered down at home to stay warm and ride out the storm.

Outside of Denver the situation was worse. In mountain towns like Aspen and Vail, heavy snow led to roofs falling over while strong winds destroyed power lines as well as trees. Isolated communities were cut off from assistance because roads were filled with debris, or simply disappeared beneath mountains of snow. In eastern Colorado, meanwhile, flash flooding transformed small creeks into violent rivers that swept away homes, cars and even those unfortunate enough to cross their route..

It took a few weeks for Colorado to heal from the snowstorm of 1997. For many who were affected however, those memories will stay in their hearts for the rest of their lives.”