Major Winter Storm Sweeping Across Colorado

Published February 3, 2012 1:27PM (EST)

DENVER (AP) — A powerful winter storm swept across Colorado on Friday, forcing the state Department of Transportation to close portions of Interstate 70 and Interstate 25. The National Weather Service said snow was falling at 2 inches an hour on the Eastern Plains.

Transportation spokeswoman Becky Navarro said Friday eastbound I-70 was closed from Aurora to Limon and a ramp has been closed on Interstate 25 in Denver because of numerous accidents.

"There are a lot of areas on the Front Range where there is very poor visibility," she said.

The largest snow total Friday morning was 18 inches in Pinecliff west of Denver.

Jim Kalina of the National Weather Service said another foot of snow was expected in some areas along the Front Range before the storm moves out on Saturday. A blizzard warning was issued through Saturday for northeastern Colorado where sustained winds of up to 30 mph could bring visibility to zero and make travel all but impossible.

Cities in the Front Range urban corridor from Colorado Springs in the south to Fort Collins and Greeley in the north were under a winter storm warning.

The storm warnings prompted shoppers to stock up on food and liquor, while Colorado lawmakers canceled legislative work on Friday.

Stores in Denver reported brisk business Thursday night.

"The cheese wall is hammered, bread's kind of hammered, milk's kind of low," said Aaron McFadden, a manager at a King Soopers store.

Ted Vaca at Argonaut Liquor said customers were snapping up all kinds of drink.

"It was more like a Friday than a Thursday," he said.

The storm forced the cancellation of more than 150 arriving and departing flights at the Denver airport that had been scheduled through Friday night.

A Learjet ran off a runway at the Pueblo airport as the storm moved in, but investigators hadn't determined if the weather was a factor. None of the 10 people aboard was injured, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Many school districts announced they would be closed on Friday, including the two largest, in Jefferson County and Denver.

The storm could break into the top 10 list of the heaviest snowstorms in Denver history. The city's 10th biggest dumped 22.1 inches in 1912, NWS meteorologist Chad Gimmestad said.

Denver's record is 45.7 inches from a five-day wallop in 1913.

Parts of Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas were also predicted to be hit by the storm

By Salon Staff

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