Storm pounds Northwest, then heads east

An early winter storm swirled toward the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains late Tuesday after wreaking havoc in the Northwest and promising to make the busiest travel day of the year that much more complicated.

The storm has created misery from Alaska to Washington state, where it is blamed for three deaths. In Utah, the state department of transportation closed Interstate 84 at the Idaho border as snow began to fall during rush hour. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir canceled its Tuesday night concert, and the University of Utah and Utah State University closed their campuses in the early afternoon.

The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings from eastern Washington to western Colorado, and said that more than a foot of snow was likely in the mountains, as well as wind chill as low as 40 degrees below zero.

"If you're going somewhere, be prepared," National Weather Service spokesman Patrick Slattery told Reuters. "Be ready for travel problems. It is going to be dangerously cold."

Roads were closed from Nevada to Idaho. In Oregon, the Associated Press reported that nearly a foot of snow had fallen on Mt. Hood and trapped visitors in the historic Timberline Lodge there.

Winds in Colorado's mountains were predicted to reach more than 60 mph, and although snow was unlikely in Denver, the low is supposed to drop to 7 degrees for Thanksgiving. The high peaks in Colorado were already blanketed by snow from a storm Monday.

Also Monday, 18 inches of snow landed in Wolf Creek Pass in southern Colorado, triggering an avalanche that killed the head of the ski patrol there, Scott Kay, 41.

Forecasters said that even though less snow was expected overnight, strong winds could make the road conditions even more hazardous and lead to additional slides.

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