Snowstorm Slams Rockies, Spreads to Midwest

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DENVER –  A storm that has dumped more  than a foot of snow in the Rocky Mountains was causing problems for travelers as  it spread across the Plains on Wednesday.

The main east-west route across Colorado, Interstate 70, closed for several  hours from east of Denver to the Kansas line because of poor visibility due to  blowing snow. Eastbound lanes remained closed Wednesday night. Smaller highways  were also closed for hours in eastern Colorado.

Drivers in Iowa and Nebraska are being warned to be careful or stop driving  altogether starting Wednesday evening as the Plains gets its first major winter  storm of the season.

Light snow is also expected at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on  Thursday and strong winds could make visibility poor. That, combined with low  clouds, could cause delays at the nation’s second-busiest airport. National  Weather Service forecaster Jamie Enderlen said.

Iowa officials advised drivers to avoid most roads from Wednesday night  through noon Thursday, but native Laurie Harry, a manager at a Casey’s General  Store, expects to drive to work Thursday morning.

“If I need to get into work, I’ll be here,” she said. “We’ve had snow before.  Iowans know what to expect. We’re used to it.”

Conditions improved in Denver by midday Wednesday. At the height of the  storm, Denver’s airport, the nation’s fifth-busiest, reported delays averaging  30 minutes because of snow and ice, but operations have since returned to  normal.

Delta and United Airlines reacted by announcing plans to allow many affected  travelers across the nation to change schedules without incurring fees.

The snow is a gift for ski resorts in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah  ahead of the busy holiday week. The weather might also tempt backcountry skiers  but prompted avalanche warnings in Colorado and Utah.

Colorado officials near Vail, about 90 miles west of Denver, planned to  trigger some small snow slides in order to remove larger threats.

In Utah, a backcountry skier triggered a slide near a Park City ski resort.  Authorities said no one was injured.

In Nebraska, officials have closed parts of Interstate 80 in the western and  south central parts of the state. Nebraska State Patrol Deb Collins said one  vehicle fatality was reported near North Platte and there were reports of  numerous car accidents and slide offs.

The moisture is also a relief after an extended wildfire season in Colorado.  Drought conditions persist especially in the mainly agricultural eastern half of  the state.

Farmer Fred Midcap welcomed the snow even though 25 mph winds were blowing  some of it away from his land near Hudson in northeastern Colorado.

“The snowflakes are mostly going sideways,” he said.

Midcap doesn’t plow his land, a move intended to help improve the soil, and  said the stubble leftover from this year’s weak millet crop will help hold some  of the snow in place, hopefully setting up for a better growing season next  year. If the snow keeps coming, it will also provide some welcome insulation to  his winter wheat crop before the coldest weather of the season.

In Arizona, two recent storms had combined to blanket the mountains north of  Flagstaff with 2 feet of snow, and about 20 inches in Flagstaff and along the  Mogollon Rim.

The storm is also expected to hit Wisconsin and Michigan, where up to a foot  of snow was forecast in the north by Friday.

Source: Fox News

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