Snowstorm takes aim at Plains, Midwest

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An early spring snowstorm forced the cancellation of more than 100 flights at Denver International Airport and closed several roads Saturday as it moved eastward, dumping more than a foot of snow in some places.

The snow started falling around midnight in northeast Colorado and then moved into northwest Kansas and southwest Nebraska.

Ten to 15 inches of snow had fallen by Saturday afternoon north of Interstate 70 in northwest Kansas and northeast Colorado, with another 1 to 2 inches expected in the area, said Ryan Husted, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Goodland, Kan., where 15 inches of snow had fallen.

The storm also dropped up to 7 inches of snow in southwestern Nebraska before tapering off Saturday afternoon, said David Pearson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service near Omaha, Neb.

“But the wind is really blowing, so visibility in those areas is still going to be pretty low,” Pearson said.

Husted said winds gusting at speeds of up to 45 mph were creating snow drifts of 2 to 3 feet in parts of Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska.

I-70 had been shut down Saturday from Denver to Colby, Kan., because of poor visibility. The northbound lanes of Interstate 25 also were closed south of Fort Collins, Colo., because of multiple accidents.

“It’s a mess here,” said Jerry Killingsworth, a National Weather Service meteorologist also based in Goodland, Kan. “Heavy, wet snow, tree limbs down.”

At the Goodland 24/7 truck stop, truckers milled around. With roads in the area closed, they are “just waiting,” said Samantha Lamb, the truck stop’s assistant manager.

“Our hotel across the street from us is pretty full,” Lamb said. “Our parking lot has a good 35, 40 trucks in it.”

As the system moved eastward, it threatened to inconvenience fans attending the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament in Kansas City.

Scott Blair, a meteorologist in Pleasant Hill, Mo., said light showers and drizzle began switching over to snow Saturday afternoon in Kansas City and western Missouri. The heaviest snowfall was expected overnight, with up to 6 inches forecast for the Kansas City area. “If people don’t need to be out driving tomorrow that would certainly be recommended,” he said.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center said up to a foot of new snow in the mountains could create dangerous avalanche conditions.

Colorado State Patrol troopers spent part of Saturday working a crash near Johnstown with a tractor-trailer that burst into flames. Some 20 to 50 vehicles, crashed or slid off roads in the area. Several people were hospitalized, but no fatalities have been reported.

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