Coloradoans emerge from their homes after a record snowstorm; some head for the slopes.


Sunday, March 23rd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


DENVER (AP) _ While some people continued digging out Sunday from a five-day snowstorm that dumped as much as 11 feet in parts of Colorado, others headed straight for the slopes.

Copper Mountain ski resort spokesman Ben Friedland said business was brisk, if not spectacular, at his resort. He guessed that many residents would like to be skiing, but were more concerned about recovering from the storm.

``You can see the pent-up demand, though,'' Friedland said. ``It's nice to do something with snow besides shovel it.''

The storm had stranded hundreds of thousands of people in their homes for two days, others for up to five days, and was blamed for at least five deaths.

By Sunday, most roads had been cleared and the vast majority of residents could travel, even in Rollinsville, the mountain berg that picked up nearly 90 inches of snow. Shoppers found shelves nearly bare as delivery trucks had not yet been able to replace supplies stripped by customers the day before the storm hit.

Insurance claims, especially for damaged roofs, were expected to top $25 million, making it the most expensive snowstorm in Colorado history.

But the region's biggest snowstorm in 90 years could was good news for farmers on the parched eastern prairie. The snow also takes some of the pressure off water providers.

``We are going to get great soil moisture throughout the Front Range, which will reduce demand as lawns and gardens already have plenty of water,'' said Chips Barry, manager of Denver Water. ``We are really quite delighted.''

It could also, at least temporarily, reduce the danger of wildfires. Last year wildfires cost the state an estimate $1.7 billion in lost tourism dollars as forests were closed during the peak summer season.