Denver, CO

Denver storm, time change pack double whammy

David Heitz

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If you’re prone to mental health problems, prepare yourself for a potentially difficult weekend if you live in Denver.

Not only will daylight saving time steal an hour of sleep from you at 2 a.m. Sunday, but by then a once-in-a-century snowstorm should be hitting its peak.

Denver is expecting as much as two feet of wet snow, in town. That doesn’t mean it’s all going to accumulate – the temperatures are expected to remain warm, and the ground is warm enough that the early snow will melt fast.

But the snow is expected to be wet and heavy enough that it is likely to down power lines. A worst-case scenario would leave the Denver metro area without power for several days.

There even are avalanches expected in urban areas.

The banter on 9 News tonight made me chuckle. “It’s going to be fun,” Kathy Sabine, 9 weather diva proclaimed, perky as ever.

“It’s snow eve,” added anchorwoman Kim Christiansen. “Manage your expectations.”

Great advice, Kim.

Prepare for power outages

If you’re reading this Saturday morning, it may not be all that menacing outside. Whatever hits the ground likely is melting. That’s not the storm of the century – that starts Saturday night.

As globs and globs of heavy snow fall on power lines, outages will be all but certain. Planning for a power outage is a great idea if only to “manage your expectations.”

Expect the power to go out. Then ask yourself, “How will my family and I pass the time?” Come up with a list of things to do. People these days go berserk when disconnected from social media. The internet is how most people work these days, so losing power is a huge blow.

Make sure your flashlights have batteries. Stock up on candles if you have time.

Boredom is especially traumatic for people who suffer from mental health disorders. If that describes you, come up with a plan for passing the time in a healthy way.

Pack ice coolers, charge all devices

The first thing you notice after the power goes out is the smell coming from the refrigerator. Despite growing up in tornado country, I never took severe weather seriously. Then about 15 years ago my hometown experienced “straight-line winds.” Imagine a tornado’s might but with winds blowing straight ahead instead of in a cyclone.

The entire community was without power for almost two weeks. Not only did everything in the refrigerator spoil (make or buy some ice as soon as possible and pack some coolers) but I perspired heavily with no air conditioning. The straight-line winds hit during a hot, humid summer. Having no air-conditioning on a third-floor apartment in the summer made for a miserable couple of weeks.

You can’t even run an old-fashioned window fan without air conditioning.

The good news is that if Denver loses power, we are not expected to experience dangerously cold (or warm) temperatures anytime soon.

No, the biggest problems I predict this storm gives us will be: No power. Boredom. And possibly depression for those who don’t find a way to deal with the disconnect of no electricity.

Make a point to get up at 2 a.m. Sunday

Make this the year to get up to change the clock at 2 a.m. for daylight savings time. You’ll want to “spring ahead” one hour. It will be a great time to watch the storm, which should be at a fever's pitch.

If you get up at 2 a.m. to change the clock, you’ll be able to assess how bad the storm might become and take appropriate measures.

Do you have a job that relies heavily on you via the internet? Be sure to tell them now that severe weather is forecast for Denver, and that power outages are likely. Tell them you will check your phone once per hour to conserve energy. That way you won’t stress over what work is thinking when you’re unable to reach out.

Denver is under a winter storm warning. A wintry mix had begun to spit from the sky as of 6:30 p.m. Friday. The amount of precipitation will ramp up beginning Saturday night. During some periods, the snow may fall at a rate of three inches per hour.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock have asked that Coloradoans stay at home and not drive anywhere during the storm unless it is an emergency.

Daylight savings switch bad for your health

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the world’s top doctors in sleep, say forcing Americans to make time changes twice per year is bad for their health.

They issued a statement to abolish daylight saving time:

“An abundance of accumulated evidence indicates that the acute transition from standard time to daylight saving time incurs significant public health and safety risks, including increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events, mood disorders, and motor vehicle crashes,” the statement reads.

“Although chronic effects of remaining in daylight saving time year-round have not been well studied, daylight saving time is less aligned with human circadian biology-which, due to the impacts of the delayed natural light/dark cycle on human activity, could result in circadian misalignment, which has been associated in some studies with increased cardiovascular disease risk, metabolic syndrome and other health risks.”

Try to prepare for ‘snow eve’

The sleep experts at Cleveland Clinic say it’s a good idea to prepare for the daylight saving time switch by going to bed about 15 minutes early the week prior to “springing ahead.” But if you’ve not been doing that, just stick to you regular sleep schedule. Never drink alcohol or coffee four hours before bedtime, as this can interfere with your sleep.

Avoid long naps that can throw off your regular sleep pattern.

With the excitement of the big storm – and the nagging need to clear your walkway possibly multiple times – sleep seems like a tall order during the next few nights.

Just know that the time switch already is taxing on your body, so take care of yourself when the snow hits. Don’t overexert yourself shoveling or become prone to depression due to the power being out.

Happy snow eve.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO
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