Colorado snowstorm triggers blizzard warnings, slows air traffic

DENVER Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:13pm EST

DENVER Feb 24 (Reuters) - A wind-driven snowstorm blanketed eastern Colorado on Sunday, creating blizzard conditions on the High Plains and prompting the cancellation of 200 flights in and out of Denver International Airport, authorities said.

The Denver metropolitan area was under a winter weather warning, with blowing snow and up to 10 inches (25 cm) of snow possible for the city, National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Kalina said.

The mountains and areas near Colorado's Wyoming and Nebraska borders were under winter weather advisories, the weather service said.

The Western region got pummeled while New England dodged what weather system forecasters had feared would become a major snowstorm for the third consecutive weekend.

The New England storm blew further east and left much of the region coping only with a slushy mix on Sunday.

Boston's Logan airport reported only minor delays, except for flights to storm-socked Denver, and major regional utilities NStar and National Grid reported only scattered outages.

The snow was a welcome sight for farms in eastern Colorado, which has been in the grip of a multi-year drought.

Areas south and east of Denver on the plains were under a blizzard warning until 11 p.m. local time (0100 EST Monday) with steady snowfall and high winds forecast throughout the day, the weather service said.

About 200 flights out of Denver International Airport were canceled, spokeswoman Laura Coale said.

The airport remained open but travelers could expect delays of up to two hours as crews de-iced departing aircraft and plowed the runways, Coale said. The airport typically handles about 1,500 flights on any Sunday.

A deep, low-pressure system near the Four Corners borders of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah had stalled, dumping heavy snow in eastern Colorado, the weather service's Kalina said.

"That setup makes it a snow event mostly for areas east of the Continental Divide," Kalina said.

Nearly a foot (30 cm) of snow had fallen in the foothills west of Denver by early afternoon, he said.

No road closures were in effect, although roads were snow packed and icy throughout the state, said Mindy Crane, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

A snow plow was involved in an accident with another vehicle near Empire, putting the motorist in the hospital, she said.

The storm front was forecast to move southeast out of Colorado and into the Texas panhandle by Monday, the weather service said.

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