Powerful winter storm pounds the Grand Valley

By: James Hopkins Email
By: James Hopkins Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - A powerful spring storm system is wreaking havoc in the Grand Valley is bringing winter–like conditions with it.

Wednesday saw daytime highs in the upper 70s, but true to Colorado weather, that changed in just a day. "It's definitely a discouragement," says Carol Zadrozny of Z's Orchards.

Thursday's high topped out in the mid 40s and this drastic decrease in temperature has many farmers scrambling to prepare for an even colder night. Wednesday 11 News checked in with Zadrozny, who told us her orchard is doing everything they can to keep their crops. "Hopefully were able to fight Mother Nature those few degrees," says Zadrozny.

Temperatures are forecasted to dip into the mid to upper 20s Thursday night, which is below average for this late in the spring. "Here in the Grand Valley the average freeze date is April 22," says Bryon Lawrence of the National Weather Service.

Not only is Thursday's overnight low going to be well below average, it might even break a 100 year old record. "For tonight the record low is 28 degrees and that was set way back in 1909," says Lawrence.

Many area farmers are worried that their crops, which are in full bloom, could be damaged by the bitter temperatures. One crop especially we haven't had much of lately. "The apricots, the further along the fruit is the more sensitive it is," says Zadrozny.

So area farmers are prepping wind machines and filling smudge pots in hopes of winning the battle. "We can raise the temperature a few degrees," says Zadrozny.

It's not only farmers who have to worry. "Everybody's been planting so they need to be prepare tonight to cover things up," says Don George, owner of Mt. Garfield Greenhouse. Our recent mild temperatures had many in the Grand Valley in the mood for summer, planting flowers to brighten up their yards. So bring them inside if possible, and if you can't, "Get a bucket and put over them then put a blanket or tarp over that," says George.

It's not all bad news. Experts say the rain and snow will actually help the plants survive the bitter cold, because Thursday night might not be the final battle. "The latest freeze date for us was May 15 in 1916," says Lawrence.

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