AURORA | Homelessness service providers are asking for the public’s help gathering warm clothes as frigid winter weather looms over the Denver metro area, with experts saying the cold snap has the potential to be lethal for those spending the night on the streets.

“It’s probably too dangerous to survive in the encampments,” said Bob Dorshimer, CEO of Mile High Behavioral Healthcare, which operates the Aurora Day Resource Center and Comitis Crisis Center.

“This type of weather hasn’t been seen for 30 years. Frostbite can happen within 5 minutes, and death can set in within 90 minutes. … This is potentially deadly for those experiencing homelessness, including pets, so my message to everyone is to take this seriously.”

The National Weather Service on Tuesday warned of a “strong arctic airmass” closing in on northeast Colorado, bringing with it the potential for strong, freezing winds and “dangerous wind chill” starting Wednesday afternoon.

The agency forecasts plummeting temperatures Wednesday, with a daytime high of 50 degrees tumbling to a low of 14 below zero that night. Winds may gust up to 30 miles per hour in the evening, and wind-chill values could sink to as low as 27 below zero. The city is also projected to receive 2-4 inches of new snow overnight.

Aurora will be lucky to climb out of the negatives Thursday, with a high of 2 below zero forecast, along with an overnight low of 11 below zero.

The Tri-County Health Department has issued a public health advisory for Adams and Arapahoe counties due to dangerously low temperatures and wind chills Wednesday afternoon through Friday morning, and is urging people not to stay outdoors for extended periods of time due to the risk of frostbite and hypothermia.

The brutal winter weather is enough to trigger the opening of shelter at the Aurora Day Resource Center and Comitis Crisis Center, which together will be able to accommodate up to 385 people and will offer shelter Wednesday through Friday nights, Dorshimer said.

He said Aurora’s street outreach teams are visiting camps and encouraging homeless residents not to risk spending the cold nights outdoors, but to help those who will anyway, the Aurora Day Resource Center is accepting hats, gloves, coats, blankets, pet clothing and cat and dog food to distribute to those in need. Teams will also offer hot water, hot chocolate, coffee and pet food.

Donations can be dropped off at the Aurora Day Resource Center — located at 13387 E. 19th Place, next to the CU Anschutz campus — between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Thursday and  Friday, Dorshimer said.

Colfax Community Network, at 1585 Kingston St., will also operate as a warming center for families and children, offering food, hot chocolate and activities for kids during normal business hours Thursday and between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday. The facility will also offer transportation to the ADRC on Wednesday and Thursday.

Dorshimer said “warm, rib-sticking” holiday meals are also being served Friday at the ADRC, following a filling meal of stuffed baked potatoes on Thursday.

Emma Knight — manager of homelessness for the city, which helps perform outreach and financially supports the programming at the ADRC and Comitis — said the city paused homeless camp sweeps earlier this week to avoid endangering people during the storm.

“Because of the extreme weather, we didn’t want to displace anyone at all prior to that, so we know where people are,” she said. “We want to make sure everyone’s safe.”

She named libraries as another place where homeless people could go to get warm, though the city is encouraging them to go to the ADRC for wraparound services. She too warned that the upcoming weather had the potential to be dangerous for the city’s unhoused,

“Frostbite is very likely to happen. We have the space for folks, and so we’re really encouraging people to come inside,” she said.

“It’s really imperative that folks be inside for the next two days.”


Arapahoe County offices will be closed Thursday due to the weather, according to county spokesperson Chris Henning.

“Arapahoe County offices will be closed Thursday, Dec. 22 in anticipation of dangerous frigid temperatures expected in the Front Range beginning Wednesday afternoon,” Hemming said in an email Wednesday. “County offices will also be closed Friday, Dec. 23 and Monday, Dec. 26 as part of the County’s regular holiday closure schedule. Regular business hours will resume on Tuesday, Dec. 27. Many services can be accessed on the County’s website at”

Adams County facilities will be closed as well.

Aurora Municipal Court will be closed Thursday, and people scheduled to appear with be contacted by the city to set a new date.

Winter break will start a day early for Cherry Creek students, as the school district announced that all classes and school activities will be canceled Thursday due to the temperatures. Friday is the first day of break for students but daycare programs will resume, the district said on its website.

Aurora Public Schools is already on winter break, but all district facilities will be closed Thursday. All in-person activities at the Community College of Aurora will be suspended Thursday and Friday as well and moved online.

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