Gov. Ritter declares emergency

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Jeremy Zoller of Front Range Arborists shovels snow in Downtown Colorado Springs Thursday. Heavy snow prompted Gov. Bill Ritter to declare a state emergency. Photo by Rebecca Tonn

Jeremy Zoller of Front Range Arborists shovels snow in Downtown Colorado Springs Thursday. Heavy snow prompted Gov. Bill Ritter to declare a state emergency. Photo by Rebecca Tonn

Gov. Bill Ritter has issued a disaster declaration, activating the National Guard to assist with rescue operations and authorizing up to $200,000 in state funds for emergency assistance.

A blizzard that began this morning is predicted to drop between one and two feet of snow in communities along the Front Range and in excess of three feet of snow in the foothills, mountains, and southwest part of the State.

“Our first and foremost concern is the health, safety and welfare of Colorado’s citizens,” Ritter said. “We are also asking residents to limit their travel and encourage employers to consider releasing employees in a phased manner to alleviate heavy traffic this afternoon.”

High winds and rain turning to snow and ice have affected traffic safety, including causing the closure of U.S. Highway 36 between Westminster and Boulder, according to the governor’s Web site.

The blizzard has already stranded motorists who are now in need of rescue, and it is expected that this need for emergency assistance will only grow as the full force of the blizzard moves across the State.

State emergency equipment and personnel will be available to rescue stranded motorists, transport emergency materials to locations such as shelters and the airport, clear roadways for emergency vehicles and stranded motorists, and respond to individual emergency situations. These efforts are necessary to adequately prepare to respond to emergency situations caused by the blizzard.