When a major blizzard pummeled Colorado last Wednesday, it left hundreds of motorists stranded on highways and hundreds of thousands without power as hurricane-force winds swirled and snow produced whiteout conditions.
But in recent days as the state begins to recover, ranchers on the Eastern Plains are finding some good news to report: The storm failed to claim the lives of many of their livestock.
“There’s not as much loss now as there potentially could have been,” said Taylor Szilagyi, a spokeswoman with the Colorado Farm Bureau.
So far, officials say ranchers have reported losing a couple of calves, but it’s unclear whether that was due to the storm. This is despite the blizzard possibly being one of the strongest to pound Colorado in decades.
In Limon, the storm left snow drifts as high as 8 feet tall. It forced truck stops to close — although a grocery store stayed open, said town manager Greg Tacha.
One rancher had to be rescued after his Kubota Sidekick stalled while he was delivering a kerosene heater to his son after losing power. The rancher spent about eight hours in a pasture-plowed field until Limon’s police chief, a neighbor, and two fire and rescue officials were able to safely reach him at 1:30 a.m. Thursday
They tried to find the rancher earlier in the night but the whiteout conditions made it difficult to locate the roadway. Once rescued, the rancher was fine but “very, very cold,” said Chief Lynn Yowell.
“That was the toughest thing we had to deal with during that blizzard, it really was,” he said.
Cattle ranchers were helped out by the frequent forecasts about the storm before it hit, said Keith Roehr, the state veterinarian.
“There was a lot of reports that allowed cattlemen and other livestock producers to prepare,” he said.
Janette Kochis, who owns a ranch with her husband south of Limon, said ranchers and farmers got “good moisture out of the storm,” which should help crops grow in the spring.
However, one dairy farm owner estimates he dumped roughly $4,000 worth of milk after a truck was unable to pick it up because of the highway closures.
“Well, I felt that too many people saw the fact that cars were stuck in Denver getting home at night, that’s all there was to the blizzard,” Tom Dobler told Denver’s 7News. “There’s a lot more to the blizzard, you know. This whole eastern sector of Colorado took a hit on this.”