A surprisingly strong, late-spring snowstorm dumped more than a foot of snow around Colorado Springs on Tuesday and up to 6 inches in the Denver metro area, which broke a 128-year record for the lowest high-temperature for the date at 39 degrees.
The one inch of snow in Fort Collins was the latest measurable snow of the season on record since a half-inch fell on June 12, 1947.
The snow was triggered by the same big storm that brought severe weather to the Plains. The wintry mess snarled roads and forced some school closings, including the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
The wintry onslaught was particularly hard on trees that buckled and broke under the weight of wet snow landing on freshly sprouted leaves.
In Colorado Springs, three greenhouses at one nursery collapsed, the Colorado Gazette reported.
“We’ll have to wait for the snow to melt, and then to dismantle the structure that’s on top of the plants” to determine how many plants survived, the nursery's general manager, Joey Clark, told the newspaper.
In northern El Paso county, where Colorado Springs is located, as much as 20 inches of snow fell in some areas, the National Weather Service reported. At one point, snow fell at the rate of 3 inches per hour.
The U.S. Air Force Academy, located north of the city, registered 18 inches, according to the weather service.
Boulder recorded 5.1 inches, the first time since May 25, 1950 – when 8.7 inches fell –that more than 5 inches of snow had accumulated this late in the year.
Denver set a record low temperature of 30 degrees early Wednesday morning, the weather service said. That broke the old record low of 32, last set in 1930.
The unexpected ice and snow in the mountains around Denver forced the shutdown of Interstate 70 at several points over the past two days because of vehicle crashes. It also triggered the cancellation of more than than 80 flights in and out of Denver International Airport, where 3.4 inches of snow fell.
As the storm moved on, forecasters warned that the lower than normal temperatures could extend the mountain snowmelt into early June, increasing the risk of flooding.
Contributing: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Surprisingly strong, late-spring winter storm dumps record snow in Colorado