Storm That Raked Coast a Near-Blizzard in Plains

Times Wire Services

A storm that plundered the California coast and packed the Rocky Mountains with snow rolled across the Plains states today, bringing near-blizzard conditions and closing schools and government offices.

Wind gusted to 40 m.p.h. in western Nebraska this morning, and blowing snow with drifts of up to six feet made roads impassable, said Dean Costantinou, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Omaha. Up to 15 inches of snow fell in southeastern South Dakota.

Wind gusting to 35 m.p.h. created a wind chill index of 27 below zero in southeastern Wyoming, while in the opposite corner of the state Yellowstone National Park had an actual low of 31 degrees below zero.

Roads, schools and businesses across Nebraska and into northeast Colorado, southeast Wyoming and Kansas were closed, and authorities asked residents to stay home and off the roads. Visibility was reduced to zero in many spots, creating near blizzard conditions.

Interstate 70 Closed

Interstate 70 was closed between the Denver suburb of Aurora and the Kansas border, a distance of about 150 miles. Numerous other state highways were closed in northeastern Colorado, virtually closing that portion of the state.

All schools in the Denver area, as well as those in northeast Colorado, were closed, as high winds pushed wind chill temperatures to 20 below zero or lower.

Wyoming state employees were told to stay home today because road crews did not think they would be able to keep up with the blowing and drifting snow in the southeastern part of the state, said gubernatorial aide Dennis Curran. “We don’t think anyone can get to work, or get home if they get there.”