COLFAX (CBS13) — Situated at 2,400 feet of elevation, the city of Colfax has about 2,000 permanent residents. But when the snow up Interstate 80 piles high, the population can soar.
“It does get a little hectic in here,” said Veronica Griffin, an employee at Main St Pizza.
The regulars at the pizza place can get crowded out if driving up the mountain becomes too dangerous.
“Depending on whether or not they stop traffic, we could be packed,” said Griffin.
Colfax businesses can get a boost when travelers are forced to turn back or wait out the storm when whiteout conditions materialize.
If and when travelers get stuck, finding a place to stay can be a challenge. The Colfax Motor Lodge is the only motel in the city, and it only has 18 rooms.
“They either have to wait it out in their cars or take it back down the hill,” said Griffin.
In the past, people have popped into local businesses, like the nail salon off the interstate.
“A lot of times people just want to come in here to get warm and have a place to hang out,” said Mekayla Ladd.
But the business boom is really all about the timing of potential road closures.
“If it’s 11 o’clock we’re just going to get buried in the morning. But if it’s seven o’clock at night, nothing,” said Ky Kleiber, the owner of Beach Hut Deli in Colfax.
Kleiber says he welcomes people coming into his deli to warm up and grab a bite to eat. He says it gives him a chance to educate the out-of-towners on how to drive in the snow.
“Slow down, go 25 miles an hour and live. Save everybody else,” said Klieber.f