I-70 closed Denver to Kansas | VailDaily.com

I-70 closed Denver to Kansas

Associated Press

DENVER ” A fast-moving winter storm darting across Colorado’s eastern plains Saturday closed major highways with whiteout conditions, high wind and drifting snow.

The National Weather Service included most of eastern Colorado, from the eastern edge of the Denver metro area to the Kansas border, 150 miles away, in a blizzard warning Saturday morning. The NWS reported wind gusts of 68 mph and predicted as much as eight inches of snow could fall on parts of the plains by Saturday night.

For Denver and the heavily populated corridor along I-25 from Fort Collins to Pueblo the Weather Service predicted blustery winds with just a trace of snow. Even before noon, Denver was under blue skies and seeing plenty of sunshine.

At Denver International Airport, which saw thousands of passengers stranded by a 45-hour shutdown during the pre-Christmas blizzard earlier this winter, flights continued operating through the morning Saturday with some delays.

Airport spokesman Chuck Cannon said the airport got about an inch of snow and saw 40 mph winds early Saturday, but most flights continued operating. Some delays were expected for flights destined for cities further east, such as Chicago, if conditions there deteriorated, Cannon said.

Joe Hodas, spokesman for Denver-based Frontier airlines, said the weather posed few problems, but the airline encountered another, unexpected, glitch. A power failure near the airport shut down automated reservation systems temporarily, creating long lines for passengers checking in. The airline delayed its 8:30 a.m. bank of flights by about an hour as desk agents handled ticketing manually, he said.

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“It’s been a crazy winter,” Hodas said.

Interstate 70, a main cross-country transportation route, was closed indefinitely in both directions from Denver to Kansas, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

In Kansas, state officials there closed the Interstate for another 70 miles east. There were also reports of golf ball-sized hail and a possible tornado touchdown Friday night.

In western Nebraska a whiteout prompted officials to close more than 100 miles of Interstate 80 and worried about flooding along the Platte River due ice jams and rain that fell before turning to snow.

Authorities Saturday also had to deal with a pileup involving about 35 cars on I-70 just east of Denver shortly before 8 a.m. A city bus was called in to transport drivers from the scene to a nearby motel as officials worked to clear the wreckage. No major injuries were reported.

Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Mindy Crane reported as of 8 a.m. blowing snow was disrupting not only traffic on I-70 but also on state highways and local roads on the plains.