DENVER – The third snowstorm in as many weeks barreled into Colorado on Friday, blanketing the Denver area with up to 8 inches of new snow and further hampering efforts to rescue thousands of cattle stranded by last week's blizzard.
Crews worked around the clock to clear roads so residents could get to stores for food and medicine. Several school districts canceled classes because winds gusts up to 30 mph had reduced visibility.
In Kansas, an estimated 60,000 people were still without power after more than a week, and the new storm was headed their way after dumping nearly a foot of snow in the foothills west of Denver.
In hard-hit southeastern Colorado, no more than 1 inch of new snow was expected, but the winds made road clearing difficult.
The roofs of two buildings — the Walsh post office and a restaurant in Elizabeth — collapsed Friday under the weight of the accumulated snow. No injuries were reported, the state Division of Emergency Management said.
Agriculture officials were still trying to determine how to deal with the carcasses of thousands of livestock that were killed in the blizzard or starved afterward.
An estimated 3,500 cattle are believed to have died on rangeland in six southeastern Colorado counties alone, said Leonard Pruett, the region's agriculture extension agent for Colorado State University.
"The magnitude of the snow out here is astounding," said Ed Cordes, project manager for Pioneer Pork, which has about 7,500 sows and 4,000 young pigs on a ranch covering about three square miles near Springfield, about 200 miles southeast of Denver.
American Humane Association workers arrived Friday to help rescue and feed young pigs that might have been orphaned because they became separated from their mothers or whose mothers' milk production declined, Cordes said.
Owners of feedlots, where range cattle are taken before slaughter, were still calculating their losses.
Luke Lind, a vice president of Five Rivers Cattle Feeding, which has 10 feedlots in Colorado, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma, said the mortality rate could be "significant," but he declined to give specific numbers. Five Rivers had 60,000 cattle in pens in the Lamar, Colo., area alone, he said.
In a massive effort to save stranded rangeland cattle, the Colorado National Guard conducted a three-day airlift that dropped about 3,000 hay bales to herds spotted on the rangeland. Troops trucked in hay and smashed ice on watering holes for livestock trapped and weakened by the earlier blizzard.
While that likely saved livestock, the survivors still face the threat of lung infections from the stress of the storm and dehydration, Pruett said.
The cold, windy conditions Friday could hurt early season calves, as well, he said.
"The mother cows out there are in good shape," Pruett said. "We had plenty of grass in the summer and fall, so they went into the storm in good condition and that makes all the difference in the world. But they're not going to stay in good condition without getting some feed because they're going downhill pretty rapidly."
In Washington, Sen. Wayne Allard and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave introduced bills Friday to help speed financial aid to ranchers who have lost livestock in Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Among the many effects of the blizzards, the price of hay has jumped from $150 a ton to $210 a ton, and much grazing land was still inaccessible, Pruett said. Ranchers will depend more on hay and other supplemental feed to keep livestock alive because the grass they normally eat is buried in snow, he said.
The snow should help Colorado's recovery from several years of drought by increasing the mountain snowpack, which supplies most of the state's water.