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Blizzard dumps 18 inches of snow on Colorado


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Blizzard dumps 18 inches of snow on Colorado


DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- A powerful snowstorm dumped 18 inches of snow in parts of the Colorado mountains and spread eastward Thursday, snarling traffic and shutting down dozens of school districts.


A 125-mile corridor from Colorado Springs to the New Mexico border was under a blizzard warning.


"We had no snow last night, and we've got about 14 inches now," said Terry Shaw, manager of the Sunmart gas station in the mountain town of Georgetown, about 30 miles west of Denver. "It's still snowing hard right now."


The storm left wet and slushy highways in cities from Pueblo to Colorado Springs and Denver to Fort Collins. A jackknifed tractor-trailer blocked part of Interstate 25 near Colorado Springs, where visibility was two to three feet.


Up to 80 outbound flights were canceled Thursday at Denver International Airport, mostly on United Airlines, the airport's busiest carrier. United, Frontier and Southwest airlines all reported delays.


"We expect it to be slow going through mid-afternoon," Southwest spokeswoman Paula Berg said.


On Colorado's wide-open Eastern Plains, residents and emergency managers braced for blowing snow and wind forecast to reach up to 45 mph. Red Cross officials sent supplies to Byers, about 30 miles east of Denver, in case the weather stranded travelers along Interstate 70, the state's main east-west route.


"After (Hurricane) Katrina, you think differently about everything," said Robert Thompson, spokesman for the Red Cross. "I think we all learned good lessons from that. Whether it really hits hard or whether it blows over, come on, this is Colorado. Who knows? But we're ready to go."


A stiff wind was already blowing the snow sideways Thursday morning in Castle Rock, about 20 miles south of Denver.


Avalanche experts said recent storms have left a snowpack of up to 2 feet in the mountains and several avalanches have already been reported, including 10 in the past week on he east side of Ten Mile Range in Summit County.


A recent snowfall did not bond well with the snow surface from a late-September storm, creating ripe conditions for avalanches, said Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster Scott Toepfer.








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