Snowstorm causing problems from Rockies to Midwest

Associated Press
A lone cyclist navigates the bike path through a snow storm at Chicago's North Ave. beach Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. A muted version of the deadly winter storm that has killed more than a dozen across the eastern half of the country reached the Northeast on Thursday, limiting most of its wrath to travel headaches as Christmas revelers tried to return home.  (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
.

View gallery

A lone cyclist navigates the bike path through a snow storm at Chicago's North Ave. beach Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. A muted version of the deadly winter storm that has killed more than a dozen across the eastern half of the country reached the Northeast on Thursday, limiting most of its wrath to travel headaches as Christmas revelers tried to return home. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

DENVER (AP) — 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.

___

Associated Press writers Felicia Fonseca, in Flagstaff, Ariz., Brady McCombs, in Salt Lake City, David Runk, in Detroit, Bob Christie, in Phoenix, and Barbara Rodriguez in Des Moines, Iowa, also contributed to this report.

View Comments (165)

Recommended for You

  • Hurricane-strength winds pummel Europe, four killed

    By Michael Hogan HAMBURG (Reuters) - At least four people were killed on Tuesday when hurricane-force winds lashed northern Europe in one of the most severe storms in years, forcing flights to be canceled and disrupting road, train and marine traffic. The Dutch meteorological office issued a red…

    Reuters
  • United States sets official strategy for Paris climate talks

    By Valerie Volcovici WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Tuesday published plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions up to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, part of a strategy to generate momentum for a global agreement later this year on combating climate change. The formal…

    Reuters
  • Air and sea traffic disrupted as 120 km winds batter Netherlands

    Spring storms battered the Netherlands with gusts of up to 120 kilometers an hour on Tuesday, causing Amsterdam's Schiphol airport to cancel flights and the closure of two container terminals at the port of Rotterdam. Gale force winds sweeping in from the North Sea disrupted land and marine…

    Reuters
  • Heavy rains trigger flood fears in Kashmir; 17 dead

    By Fayaz Bukhari SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Heavy rains and a landslide in the Himalayan region of Kashmir killed 17 people, police said on Tuesday, as Indian authorities continued working to rescue stranded villagers, with unseasonal rains raising fears of flash floods in the mountainous north. …

    Reuters
  • Ocean warming suggests 50 percent chance of El Nino-Australia

    By Colin Packham SYDNEY (Reuters) - Recent warming of the Pacific Ocean may signal an El Nino weather event is forming, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said on Tuesday. Climate models indicate the central tropical Pacific Ocean is likely to continue to warm, with El Nino thresholds to be…

    Reuters
  • Vanuatu risks long-term food insecurity after monster cyclone: U.N.

    By Alisa Tang BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The monster cyclone that hit Vanuatu earlier this month wiped out more than 90 percent of the archipelago's crops, putting its people at risk of a secondary emergency and long-term food insecurity, the United Nations warned on Monday. Tropical…

    Reuters
  • Heavy rains trigger flood fears in Kashmir; six dead

    By Fayaz Bukhari SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - A landslide in the Himalayan region of Kashmir killed six people and left 10 missing, police said on Monday, as unseasonal rains swept India, damaging crops and raising fears of flash floods in the mountainous north. Hundreds of people fled their homes…

    Reuters
  • Harsh weather cripples fishing and tourism on Cameroon's coast

    By Elias Ntungwe Ngalame KRIBI, Cameroon (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - For over 15 years, Raoul Meno has been fishing the waters off the coastal town of Kribi in southern Cameroon. A bout of persistent heavy rains and surging tides this year has made fishing in Kribi increasingly difficult and…

    Reuters
  • Air Canada plane landed short, hit antennas in Halifax accident

    By Mark Blinch HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (Reuters) - An Air Canada plane that suffered heavy damage in an accident in the east coast city of Halifax on Sunday landed short of the runway and hit an antenna array, losing its landing gear, safety officials said. "They touched down 1,100 feet (335 meters)…

    Reuters
  • U.S. to submit plans to fight global warming; most others delay

    By Alister Doyle and Valerie Volcovici OSLO/WASHINGTON - The United States will submit plans for slowing global warming to the United Nations early this week but most governments will miss an informal March 31 deadline, complicating work on a global climate deal due in December. The U.S.…

    Reuters
  • Modi's popularity in rural India punctured by discontent, suicides

    By Mayank Bhardwaj VAIDI, India (Reuters) - Over a dozen debt-laden farmers have committed suicide in recent weeks in India, and discontent in many rural areas against government policies is turning into anger against Prime Minister Narendra Modi less than a year after he swept into office. …

    Reuters
  • Chile desert rains sign of climate change: chief weather scientist

    By Rosalba O'Brien SANTIAGO (Reuters) - The heavy rainfall that battered Chile's usually arid north this week happened because of climate change, a senior meteorologist said, as the region gradually returns to normal after rivers broke banks and villages were cut off. "For Chile, this particular…

    Reuters
  • Mexico unveils national strategy for Paris climate talks

    By Valerie Volcovici WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mexico on Friday said it will cap its greenhouse gas emissions by 2026, becoming one of the first countries to formally submit its national climate plan to the United Nations ahead of a climate summit in Paris in December. Mexico's Foreign and…

    Reuters
  • Fed must take account of global economy in U.S. outlook: Yellen

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve must take the global economy into account when judging the U.S. domestic outlook, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Friday, noting that a stronger dollar buoyed by weakness abroad may restrain U.S. exports Still, she added, U.S. consumer…

    Reuters
  • In reversal, crash-hit Lufthansa agrees to two-crew in cockpit rule

    Lufthansa said on Friday it would introduce new rules requiring two crew members in cockpits at all times, a swift reversal after its CEO said such a change was not needed despite the crash at its Germanwings subsidiary. The European Union said it would now advise all EU airlines to require two…

    Reuters
  • Sierra Leone capital 'eerily quiet' amid Ebola lockdown

    By Umaru Fofana FREETOWN (Reuters) - The capital of Sierra Leone was "eerily quiet" on Friday at the start of a three-day national lockdown aimed at accelerating the end of an Ebola epidemic in the worst affected country. Liberia has just one known case left and the three countries have set a…

    Reuters
  • Lufthansa to toughen up cockpit rules

    Lufthansa said it will introduce new rules requiring two crew members to be in the cockpit at all times after one of the pilots at its Germanwings unit crashed a plane in the French Alps. Prosecutors believe Andreas Lubitz, 27, locked himself alone in the cockpit of the Airbus A320 on Tuesday and…

    Reuters
  • Poland to charge two Russian officials over Kaczynski plane crash

    Poland said on Friday it would bring charges against two Russian air traffic controllers over a 2010 plane crash which killed then Polish president Lech Kaczynski, a move likely to damage bilateral relations already strained by the Ukraine crisis. Prosecutor Ireneusz Szelag from the District…

    Reuters
  • Drought, warm weather bring 'smog day' memories in California

    By Sharon Bernstein KINGS COUNTY, Calif. (Reuters) - The brown haze over California's San Joaquin Valley breadbasket on some winter days has been an unwelcome reminder of the bad old days, when pollution hung so thickly that people were warned to stay inside. Years of tight environmental rules…

    Reuters
  • India turns to 'satellite god' for crop mapping

    By Ratnajyoti Dutta NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Sher Singh, a farmer from India's desert state of Rajasthan, prays to Varuna, the Hindu god of water, for a bountiful harvest. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to promote a "per drop, more crop" approach to farming to make better use of scarce water,…

    Reuters