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Plains Blizzard Cancels Flights, Closes Interstates

Blizzard conditions are closing interstates on the Plains. Blizzard conditions are closing interstates on the Plains. |  Photo: Nebraska State Patrol via Twitter

From Associated Press reports
Updated: March 14, 2019 11:43 AM

Parts of Colorado and Wyoming remain paralyzed in the wake of a massive late-winter blizzard that swept through the two states before barreling north.

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The storm knocked out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses, closed hundreds of miles of highway, stranded thousands of motorists and shut down airports. A Colorado State Patrol officer was hit and killed by a car while helping another driver.

Major highways in the two states remained closed Thursday morning as blizzard conditions persisted in some areas. Crews were searching for stranded motorists and worked to clear the roads.

COLORADO

22 miles of Interstate 25 near the Wyoming border was closed, and 66 miles of Interstate 70 was closed to westbound traffic. The two highways are the state's busiest north-south and east-west routes, crossing in Denver.

Vehicles were required to have chains to cross several mountain passes in Colorado. Three major entrances to Rocky Mountain National Park were also closed.

About 1,000 flights into Denver were canceled Wednesday. Denver Airport reopened but more than 600 incoming and outgoing flights were canceled early Thursday before operations could resume.


NEBRASKA

Flooding caused by a massive late-winter storm prompted evacuations in eastern Nebraska communities as authorities searched for one person whose vehicle was swept away by floodwaters.

Norfolk Public Safety Director Shane Weidner says emergency crews responded early Thursday when a vehicle was swept off a local road. The missing individual had not been found by midmorning Thursday.

Rising water on the Elkhorn River prompted an evacuation of the eastern side of Norfolk. Evacuations also occurred in several other eastern Nebraska communities.

On the other side of the state, western Nebraska residents were struggling with blizzard-like conditions with wind gusts approaching 90 mph. I-80 and many state highways in the Panhandle were closed Wednesday.


NORTH DAKOTA

Many government offices in the Fargo area will be closed as the area braces for a strong winter storm.

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney has declared an emergency to close all non-emergency city offices on Thursday.

All Fargo City Hall departments and public libraries will be closed Thursday. There will be no bus service.

In West Fargo, all nonessential city offices and buildings also will be closed Thursday. Cass County government offices also will be closed.


SOUTH DAKOTA

South Dakota's governor has closed state offices across much of the state Thursday as blizzard conditions move in from the West.

Offices in 49 of South Dakota's 66 counties are closed as the National Weather Service warns of blizzard and winter-storm conditions. Gov. Kristi Noem says only essential personnel in the affected state offices should go to work.

Heavy rain has caused flooding in southern and eastern South Dakota, with water covering some roads and highways.

On Wednesday, blizzard conditions forced the closure of the Rapid City Regional Airport and a 263-mile stretch of Interstate 90 from Chamberlain to the Wyoming border.

South Dakota officials recommend that motorists not try to travel Thursday.

Rapid City Regional Airport said at midday Wednesday that it is closed until further notice because of the approaching storm.

The airport said in a news release that it would reopen as soon as conditions warrant. It says it's closing in the "best interest of public safety."

In Sioux Falls, many flights were canceled at its regional airport because of visibility of less than 1/8 of a mile. Arrivals and departures that were canceled include flights from and to Florida, Arizona and Texas.
 


WYOMING

Truck stops in eastern Wyoming have turned into refuges for motorists because of a blizzard that has shut down two key highways.

In Cheyenne, about 60 trucks were stranded at the Sapp Brothers Travel Center along Interstate 80 and an estimated 120 were at the Love's Travel Stop off Interstate 25.

A 280-mile stretch of I-80 was closed from the small city Rock Springs to the Nebraska state line. And a 300-mile section of I-25 was closed from the small city of Buffalo to the Colorado border.

The blizzard began Wednesday morning and was expected to continue through Wednesday night. It prompted the closures of schools, government offices, a university and the Cheyenne Veteran Affairs Medical Center and its clinics.

Credits

From Associated Press reports

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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