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Colorado hit with 3rd storm in 3 weeks
01-06-2007, 11:55 AM
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Colorado hit with 3rd storm in 3 weeks
DENVER - Snow-weary Colorado was hammered with its third snowstorm in as many weeks, complicating recovery efforts from back-to-back blizzards and raising fears that livestock losses would keep mounting.

The Denver area was blanketed with up to 8 inches of snow Friday, while nearly a foot fell in the foothills west of the city before the storm moved into New Mexico.

In Kansas, an estimated 60,000 people were still without power after more than a week, and between 6,000 to 10,000 customers remained in the dark in Nebraska, according to Nebraska Public Power District.

Crews in Colorado worked around the clock to clear roads so residents could get to stores for food and medicine. Several school districts canceled classes because winds gusts up to 30 mph had reduced visibility.

The roofs of two buildings in hard-hit southeastern Colorado — the Walsh post office and a restaurant in Elizabeth — collapsed under the weight of the accumulated snow. No injuries were reported, the state Division of Emergency Management said.

Agriculture officials were trying to determine how to deal with the carcasses of thousands of livestock that were killed in last week's blizzard or starved afterward.

An estimated 3,500 cattle are believed to have died on rangeland in six southeastern Colorado counties alone, said Leonard Pruett, the region's agriculture extension agent for Colorado State University.

"The magnitude of the snow out here is astounding," said Ed Cordes, project manager for Pioneer Pork, which has about 7,500 sows and 4,000 young pigs on a ranch near Springfield, about 200 miles southeast of Denver.

American Humane Association workers arrived Friday to help rescue and feed young pigs that might have been orphaned because they became separated from their mothers or whose mothers' milk production declined, Cordes said.

Owners of feedlots, where range cattle are taken before slaughter, were still calculating their losses.

Luke Lind, a vice president of Five Rivers Cattle Feeding, which has 10 feedlots in Colorado, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma, said the mortality rate could be "significant," but he declined to give specific numbers. Five Rivers had 60,000 cattle in pens in the Lamar, Colo., area alone, he said.

In a massive effort to save stranded rangeland cattle, the Colorado National Guard conducted a three-day airlift that dropped about 3,000 hay bales to herds spotted on the rangeland. Troops trucked in hay and smashed ice on watering holes for livestock trapped and weakened by the earlier blizzard.

While that likely saved livestock, the survivors still face the threat of lung infections from the stress of the storm and dehydration, Pruett said.

In Washington, Sen. Wayne Allard (news, bio, voting record) and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (news, bio, voting record) introduced bills Friday to help speed financial aid to ranchers who have lost livestock in Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

I am only a weather enthusiast, my opinions are just that, my opinions. Alway's stay informed with your local weather pro's.
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