Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska dig out from powerful snowstorm News Staff

People in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska were digging out Monday from a powerful late winter snowstorm that led to airport and road closures, power outages and avalanche warnings.

The storm dropped 27.1 inches (68.3 centimetres) of snow at Denver International Airport by the end of Sunday, making it the fourth biggest snowfall in the city’s history, the National Weather Service said.

The storm had largely moved out of the region by Monday morning but large sections of interstates in Wyoming and Colorado remained closed as well as runways at Denver’s airport.

The weather service in Wyoming, which called the storm “historic and crippling,” said travel would remain dangerous for the next several days in parts of Wyoming and Nebraska because of slick and snow covered roads.

Major roads from the southwest corner of Wyoming to its northeast corner remained closed, including routes in and out of the cities of Cheyenne and Casper. Interstate 70 across the eastern half of Colorado was also among the roads closed.

Plowing operations in the Casper area were suspended Sunday because of heavy snow and a lack of visibility, the Wyoming Department of Transportation said.

“We had several plows drive off the roadway due to limited to zero visibility,” the agency said on its Facebook page.

Farther south, a record of over 2 feet (61 centimetres) of snow had fallen just outside Cheyenne by noon Sunday, the weather service reported. A measuring site at Windy Peak in the Laramie Range reported 52 inches (1.3 metres) of snow in a 24-hour period ending Sunday morning, the weather service said.

A person who answered the phone at the Love’s Travel Stop in Cheyenne, but declined to give his name, said 98 trucks were stranded there. They were taking fuel out a can at a time to fill up generators on the trucks to keep their refrigerators or freezers running, he said.

Interstate 25 was closed in northern Colorado to its end at Buffalo, Wyoming while Interstate 80 was closed across southern Wyoming and into the Nebraska panhandle, where 19 inches (48 centimetres) of snow were reported just south of Gering, Nebraska.

Nebraska’s transportation department asked people across the state to stay home to avoid strong winds and rain on the eastern side of the state and blizzard conditions in the west, the Omaha World-Herald reported. Traffic from Interstate 80 was routed into nearby cities and towns.

School was on Monday cancelled in Denver, Cheyenne and Casper and some government offices announced closures.

At Denver’s airport, the runways were closed just before noon Sunday due to blowing snow and poor visibilities. “Many flights have already been cancelled so the runway closures have minimal impacts,” airport officials said in social media posts.

The Northern Colorado Regional Airport that serves the Fort Collins and Loveland areas was closed Sunday morning after receiving a foot (30 centimetres) of snow, according to the airport’s social media accounts.

An avalanche blocked Colorado Highway 14 in north-central Colorado on Sunday, the Colorado Department of Transportation said.

An avalanche warning was in effect Sunday for the Rocky Mountains west of Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs where “intense snowfall will cause large and destructive avalanches,” Colorado Avalanche Center said. The centre warned that avalanches could happen in unusual locations and recommended against travelling in the backcountry.

An avalanche blocked Colorado Highway 14 in north-central Colorado on Sunday, the Colorado Department of Transportation said.

The Associated Press

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