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April 10, 2013

Spring storm delivers snow, winds

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A large spring snowstorm delivering heavy snow, high winds and rain was causing travel problems from Wyoming to Chicago on Tuesday.

In Wyoming, some big stretches of Interstates 25 and 80 were closed Tuesday morning before being reopened, but snow and blowing snow conditions were still making driving dangerous along the interstates and smaller highways. No unnecessary travel was advised Tuesday afternoon on about 180 miles of I-25 between Cheyenne and Casper because heavy snow was causing near white-out conditions.

Meanwhile, freezing rain, snow and strong winds, were hitting Kansas and South Dakota, where numerous local elections were postponed. Some schools in Minnesota dismissed students early as travel conditions deteriorated.

Snow in the Denver area has been lighter than expected but around 500 flights have been cancelled at Denver International Airport and deicing was delaying departures.

Flights bound for Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, meanwhile, were being delayed an average of nearly four hours because of dense fog.

Tornadoes were also possible in parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas later in the day.

While April snowstorms aren’t unusual in Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West, the storm comes after a rather tame winter in many areas.

“We haven’t really had bad days like today where everybody is stuck and nobody can go anywhere,” Sam Blaney, who was working the service counter at the Petro truck stop in Laramie, said.

About two dozen truckers and other motorists took refuge at the truck stop to wait out the storm, Blaney said.

Many areas of Wyoming and western Nebraska received more than a foot of snow. In western Nebraska, road crews reported 8- to 9-foot drifts.

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