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A major winter storm is expected to sweep through Colorado this weekend, potentially reducing oil and gas production in the Rockies and testing the utilities’ ability to provide power to customers amid expected high demand and fears of downed power lines.
This weekend, Denver could see one of the biggest snowstorms since 1885, AccuWeather meteorologists said on Thursday. The snowstorm threatens to be a long-duration event that could result in snowfall nearing 2 feet in Denver and as high as 3 feet in places west of Denver, such as Boulder and Fort Collins. Heavy snowfall is expected to stretch north into Wyoming as well, according to AccuWeather.
“One of the biggest snowstorms we’ve seen all year,” AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.
Colorado is activating National Guard to assist with potential search and rescue efforts this weekend, as the National Weather Service Denver/Boulder forecast office issued on Thursday a Winter Storm Warning for the Mountains, Front Range Foothills, and the Urban Corridor from Friday night into early Monday.
“Expect difficult to impossible travel conditions, scattered power outages, and severe impacts to newborn livestock,” NWS Weather Prediction Center said.
While fuel demand will collapse with near-impossible travel conditions, power consumption in Colorado is expected to jump this weekend, testing again the grid and utilities’ ability to withstand a major storm following the February Freeze from Texas to Maine.
During last month’s cold snap, two utility firms in northern Colorado asked their customers to converse electricity. Platte River Power Authority and Mountain Parks Electric pleaded with customers to reduce where possible their consumption of natural gas and electricity in mid-February.
“Unprecedented cold weather and snow is causing a natural gas shortage and impacting availability of energy from Platte River’s solar fields and wind turbines,” Platte River Power Authority said on February 14.
During that cold snap, the winter storm in Texas shut in an estimated 4 million bpd of U.S. oil production and almost 6 million bpd of refining capacity across the United States, and forced rolling outages across Texas as extreme winter weather forced generating units offline, while electricity demand set a new winter peak record.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.