DENVER (AP) A powerful storm battered the Plains with tornadoes yesterday, killing at least two people, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming were paralyzed by blowing snow that closed hundreds of miles of highways and the region”s biggest airport.
A tornado tore through a community food pantry in Iowa, killing one and burying the body in rubble. A tornado also killed a man in Oklahoma.
Up to 18 inches of snow fell along the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains and winds gusted to 70 mph, heaping the snow into deep drifts. Parts of Wyoming got up to a foot.
“I don”t think we”ve had this much snow forever. This is ridiculous,” Sarah Mischke said after walking to work in Cheyenne, Wyo., where schools and government offices were shut down.
All Denver public schools were closed for the first time in more than six years.
Nearly 50,000 customers lost power in Colorado. “We”re treating this like a military operation,” Xcel Energy spokesman Steve Roalstad said.
Denver International Airport was shut down for seven hours to avoid the chaos that struck during a 1997 blizzard when thousands of passengers were stranded overnight, spokesman Chuck Cannon said.
The blowing snow closed hundreds of miles of Interstate 25 in Colorado, I-70 across eastern Colorado, and I-80 from Wyoming into the Nebraska Panhandle.
Hundreds of people were stranded in cars near Colorado Springs, where the airport also was closed.