Colorado’s Worst Snow Storms – Preparing for Heavy Snow

Posted: Sep 30, 2020

Colorado & Snow Storms

With winter weather on the way, it’s time for property managers to start going over their winter planning and risk management. Even though Denver usually has pretty mild winters, there’s always the chance that the next snowfall can turn into a big snowstorm or even “the storm of the century“. But how can you make sure your business or commercial property is covered when a snowstorm hits? That’s where commercial snow and ice removal services come in.

How To Handle Big Colorado Snowstorms

To get a good grasp of what it takes to deal with heavy snowstorms, let’s look back at the largest Denver snowstorm in recent memory (and the 2nd-largest storm in Denver’s history), the blizzard of 2003.

Colorado’s Blizzard of 2003

The storm hit the Denver area late-night March 17th/early morning March 18th and brought wet, heavy snow with it. Most places in the metro area received about ½”-1″ of snow PER HOUR that day. Overnight, some areas got as much as 18″ of snow. By the next morning (the 19th) most roads weren’t passable, and many residents were stuck at home until that Saturday (the 22nd). The recorded snow totals around Denver during the blizzard were:

  • Denver (Stapleton) 31.8″
  • Thornton – 33.0″
  • Westminster – 31.0″
  • Arvada – 33.0″
  • Lakewood – 36.0″
  • Denver SW – 35.0″
  • Centennial – 38.0″
  • Aurora – 40.3″
  • Buckley AFB – 37.0″
  • Denver Intl Airport (DIA) – 19.0″

About 135,000 people in the Denver area had no power for extended periods of time. Denver International Airport(DIA) was shut down for almost 2 days, stranding some 4000 travelers. The weight of the snow even tore a hole in one of the airport’s white tent tops! This “storm of the century” essentially shut down the Denver metro area for several days.

Preparing for Snowstorms in Colorado Big & Small

Big snowstorms like the blizzard of 2003 provide extra challenges for businesses and property owners compared to normal snowfall. Blizzards, ice storms, and other winter storm events require a proactive response and extra care to combat properly. Commercial snow plows may need to run constantly to ensure that properties stay clear, depending on how hard it is snowing or how much snow has already accumulated.

Protecting Your Visitors & Property

Snowstorms also carry extra risk of personal injury and property damage, which is why preparation, coordination, and quick response time are so important to safely manage a storm. At SMS, we have emergency winter service crews that are on call day and night so that we can tend to your property at a moment’s notice. Monitoring approaching storms and preparing for them will provide a headstart on keeping your property snow- and ice-free.

The goal is to get the jump on snowstorms, not the other way around. Preparing and predicting the snow accumulation allows for more effective snow removal.

Clearing Sidewalks & Walkways

Sidewalks and walkways need to stay clear as well. Heavy snowfall from snowstorms takes a lot of effort to shovel by hand. During the blizzard of 2003, two people died in Aurora from heart attacks while trying to shovel snow by hand! Commercial winter sidewalk services will keep your walkways clear of snow and ice no matter how bad a storm gets, because they have the equipment and materials to get the job done quickly and safely.

For smaller storms, anti-icing (applying ice melt before it snows) and de-icing (applying ice melt afterward) can make it easier to keep parking lots and sidewalks clear. But for heavy snowstorms, keeping ice in check can be too much to handle for a couple of people with a bag of ice melt. Commercial ice prevention services will help keep ice at bay so that your property is slip-free and safe for everyone.

Heavy Accumulation Means Snow Hauling

After the blizzard of 2003, the Denver area was littered with snow piles and snow banks from all the plowed snow. This brings up another important aspect of dealing with big snowstorms: what do you do with all the snow once you’ve plowed it? Many businesses choose to just push all their snow to one end of the lot and let the sun do its work. While this may work for smaller snowstorms, it might not be the best solution for larger storms.

Snow piles can take weeks or even months to totally melt, and during that time they can increase the risk of slip-and-fall injuries on your property. The meltwater will find any low areas on your property and create puddles or pools that freeze again overnight. These are huge liability risks that need special attention. That is why it is worth considering commercial snow hauling services after heavy snowstorms to keep your property safe.


No matter how bad a snowstorm may get, Snow Management Services can handle the worst that winter can throw at you. For more than 25 years, we have been the go-to snow removal and winter risk management company in Denver for businesses and commercial properties. Our certified and seasoned snow crews are on call day and night so that your property stays snow- and ice-free and safe through even the heaviest snowstorms.

To see what SMS can do for you, give us a call at (303) 750-8867 today or contact us for a free walkthrough and quote for your property.