Big fall snowstorm wallops Colorado and Wyoming

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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DENVER - An early blast of winter walloped some western states with deep snow and slowly pushed into Nebraska and Kansas on Thursday, bringing blizzard conditions to the eastern plains and causing treacherous roads, closed schools and hundreds of cancelled flights.
The fall storm spread about one metre of snow and left much higher drifts across parts of northern Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, before its leading edge hit neighbouring states just to the east.
Wind-driven snow built to blizzard conditions over much of eastern Colorado. The weather service warned most area roads would be impassable Thursday night because of blowing snow and near-zero visibility.
The heaviest October snowfall in the Denver area in a decade forced the closure of hundreds of schools and businesses. Roads across the region remained snowpacked and icy.
"Big storms like these, they seem to come around every 10 to 12 years," said Kyle Fredin, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
Denver-based Frontier Airlines said it cancelled 44 flights in and out of Denver International Airport. Other flights were delayed by up to four hours. United Airlines, the airport's dominant carrier with about 400 flights per day, cancelled half its flights Thursday to prevent delays and cancellations from spilling over into Friday, spokesman Charlie Hobart said.
Airport spokesman Chuck Cannon said crews were using 174 pieces of snow-removal equipment to keep runways and taxiways clear as they dealt with severe wind gusts. Cannon said two departure and two arrival runways were open. The airport received at least 40 centimetres of snow, the weather service said.
The Colorado Department of Transportation closed a 225-kilometre stretch of Interstate 70 from near Denver to Burlington and 90 kilometres of Interstate 76 from Lochbuie to Fort Morgan. Plows struggled to keep up with the blowing snow, said CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson.
No serious accidents were reported, likely because shuttered businesses meant fewer cars on the road, Wilson said.
In Wyoming, road closures included a 65-kilometre stretch of Interstate 80 from Cheyenne to Laramie; a 50-kilometre span of Interstate I-25 from Wellington to Cheyenne; and a 320-kilometre stretch of I-80 west of Big Springs to Laramie, Wyo.

Organizations: National Weather Service, Frontier Airlines, Denver International Airport United Airlines Department of Transportation Big Springs

Geographic location: Colorado, Wyoming, DENVER Nebraska Kansas Northern Utah Cheyenne Burlington Lochbuie Fort Morgan Wellington Laramie, Wyo.

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