U.S. Rockies, High Plains brace for monster spring snowstorm

Brendan O'Brien
·2-min read

By Brendan O'Brien

(Reuters) - A massive spring snowstorm was approaching the U.S. Rockies and High Plains on Friday, threatening the region this weekend with blizzard-like conditions, heavy snowfalls and fierce wind gusts that could paralyze travel and cause avalanches.

The storm could dump up to 2 feet (61 cm) of snow and offer winds of up to 35 miles per hour (56 km per hour) to the I-25 Urban Corridor along the Southern Rocky Mountains in much of Colorado and Wyoming through the weekend, the National Weather Service said.

"March is one of our snowiest months of the year when we can get storms ... like this that have a ton of moisture to work with," Colorado-based weather service meteorologist Zach Hiris said. "It's certainly unusual but not earth-shattering snowfall totals."

The weather service forecast as much as 4 feet (1.22 m) of snow could fall in higher elevations, warning of possible avalanches in remote areas of Colorado and Wyoming where snow could rapidly accumulate.

Travel could become impossible with blowing and drifting snow across roadways, the service said, as Colorado Department of Transportation urged motorists to stay off the roads.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis said he activated the state's National Guard to respond to search and rescue requests over the weekend.

"I urge you to stay home if it's going to snow hard in your area so you don’t need them to rescue you," he said in a tweet.

The Denver International Airport, where 18 inches (45.72 cm) of snow were in the forecast, told passengers to check with their airlines, many of which were offering travel waivers for flights scheduled over the weekend.

The storm was also expected to bring a mix of rain and snow and winds of up to 45 mph to parts of western Nebraska.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)