Western Winter Weather

Shoppers struggle to head to their vehicles outside a grocery store as a late winter storm packing hurricane-force winds and snow sweeps over the intermountain West on March 13.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock Thursday urged residents to be mindful of slippery streets and give themselves time to travel in the wake of Wednesday’s “bomb cyclone” snow storm that shuttered most of the city.

Hancock praised police and other city workers who made their “number one priority” watching out for the homeless and moving them into shelters. He also thanked road crews that worked through the night to clear the streets.

“Here we are today after the storm that made national news and our city is up and running,” Hancock told reporters at a briefing in the city’s Emergency Operation Center in the basement of City Hall.

The mayor asked motorists to be alert while driving because of traffic lights that were not working at about 80 intersections. He said drivers should treat them like four-way stops and use caution.

He said most of the major airlines expect to be fully operational by noon Thursday. But he advised travelers to give themselves plenty of time to arrive at the airport and to treat it as they would a high-traffic volume holiday.

At the storm’s peak on Wednesday, visibility near the airport was reduced to just a few feet, the mayor said.

Hancock declared an emergency on Wednesday. That enabled the city to use workers and lower-profile vehicles from departments like the Sheriff’s Department, Public Works and Parks and Recreation to help shuttle people to shelters.

The press briefing took place in the Emergency Operation Center command room, where about 30 employees from various city departments sat at computers that displayed maps with hundreds of yellow dots representing actions such as power outages and police and fire responses.

They worked in a room with the motto “To Save the City” painted overhead.

Hancock thanked Denver Public Schools for not opening Thursday. That made the storm recovery easier, he said.

Colorado Politics asked Hancock if he was mindful during the storm of the city’s history of major snow storms happening during mayoral campaigns.

A blizzard that dumped 29 inches of snow on Denver on Christmas Eve 1982 became a campaign issue the next spring when challenger Federico Pena defeated incumbent William McNichols.

“Let’s just say, I wish my commercials were up and running,” Hancock quipped.

Hancock is seeking a third term in a race with about eight other challengers.

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