â€¢ Storms close major highways in Colorado and Washington
â€¢ More than a half-foot of snow surprises Colorado
â€¢ Up to 60 vehicles involved in collisions on I-90 in Washington
â€¢ Forecast calls for accumulation overnight in Washington
DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- Potent winter storms caused dozens of vehicle crashes with injuries in Colorado and Washington state Wednesday, prompting the closure of two major highways in both states.
Jay Vance tries to figure out how to get a car off of a barrier outside Boulder, Colorado, on Wednesday.
In Colorado, where the storm dumped more than a half-foot of snow, state police reported that 18 people were taken to hospitals, four with serious injuries and the others with minor to moderate injuries.
A 12-mile northbound stretch of Interstate 25 -- the state's main north-south route -- was closed for several hours north of Colorado Springs because of the wrecks and treacherous conditions.
Master Trooper Ron Watkins said authorities had to send a school bus to collect stranded motorists and take them to a hotel.
Watkins' advice to other drivers: "Stay away from the area."
The National Weather Service had predicted less than 3 inches of snow for Denver, to arrive later in the day, but winds began wringing moisture out of the air around sunrise and big flakes began piling up quickly.
At least 7 inches of snow fell in the suburbs west of Denver, and 10 inches fell in the foothills.
In Washington, as many as 60 vehicles were involved in collisions on I-90 near the summit of Snoqualmie Pass, State Patrol Trooper Jeff Merrill said. The crashes led authorities to close the highway in both directions late Wednesday.
Details were few, but some accidents involved injuries, at least four of which Merrill described as serious.
The forecast called for snow and slush accumulations of as much as 6 inches Wednesday night in parts of King and Snohomish counties, while Snoqualmie Pass was expecting as much as 10 inches of snow, the Transportation Department said.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.
â€¢ Iowa governor issues disaster declaration
â€¢ Minnesota National Guard sent to help affected communities
â€¢ Snowplows forced off roads by deteriorating conditions
â€¢ At least six deaths blamed on storm
The driver of a snowplow that went off a road east of Fort Dodge, Iowa, Thursday shovels the back tires as another driver stops to help
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (AP) -- A deadly winter storm walloped parts of the Plains and Midwest, keeping highways and schools closed, knocking out power and piling up huge snow drifts Friday.
At least six storm-related deaths have been reported in the region since the snowfall began Wednesday. Blizzard conditions shut down roads in Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota, leaving some areas with well over a foot of snow by Friday morning.
"We're not making much progress today," Dena Gray-Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Transportation, said Friday as crews tried reopen the state's major highways. "The winds are drifting it right in behind us.
"We've actually had to occasionally pull our plows off the road."
In Michigan, close to 80,000 homes and businesses lost power; about half were still in the dark Friday morning, utility officials said. A pickup truck driver died Friday after colliding with a delivery truck on a slick road.
Chicago's O'Hare International Airport had two-hour delays at midday.
"It's a whale of a storm," said Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. "Overall, things are going as well as they could."
Pawlenty ordered the National Guard to help communities in his state, and the governors of Iowa and South Dakota issued disaster declarations.
Hundreds of miles of Interstates 35, 80 and 29 in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota remained closed Friday. In Iowa's Cass County, 176 stranded motorists had been rescued, Sheriff Bill Sage said.
Minneapolis had 11 inches of snow by sunrise Friday. Western Iowa got up to 17 inches of snow, and strong wind built up drifts 10 feet high. The eastern Dakotas had up to 18 inches in parts.
The University of Minnesota reopened Friday after closing its Twin Cities campus for the first time since 1991.
Traffic accidents Wednesday and Thursday killed a woman in Michigan, a couple in North Dakota and a woman in Wisconsin, and another person died while shoveling snow in Nebraska. In Wisconsin, wet snow was blamed for the partial collapse of a supermarket roof Thursday in the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield; no one was injured.
The storm was part of a larger line of thunderstorms and snowstorms that stretched from Minnesota to the Gulf Coast. Tornadoes killed 20 people in Missouri, Georgia and Alabama, including eight students in an Alabama high school, authorities said.
An ice and snow storm also hit the Northeast on Friday, delaying flights around the area. Windblown snow fell across much of northern New England, while a messy mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain coated parts of New York with ice, slowing morning commuter traffic and giving many schoolchildren a three-day weekend across the region.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.
A car involved in a single vehicle accident in Janesville, Wis., is seen Thursday, March 1, 2007. The latest winter storm to slide through Southern Wisconsin made for a busy morning for local law enforcement officials. The sole occupant of the vehicle refused medical treatment. (Photo: AP/Janesville Gazette, B. Olmstead)
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A tow truck driver prepares to help a stranded motorist as blowing snow blankets 42nd Street just north of the Interstate 94 overpass in Fargo, N.D., Wednesday evening, Feb. 28, 2007. (Photo: AP/The Forum, Bruce Crummy)
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Zac Alstad tries to keep the sidewalk clear as he shovels snow on Broadway on University Hill, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007, in Boulder, Colo. (Photo: AP/The Daily Camera, Jack Watson)
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Tyson Miller, 7, of Aberdeen, S.D., shovels the staircase as his brother Austin Aberle, 11, works on the sidewalk, in the background, following a winter storm Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007. (Photo: AP/Aberdeen American News, J. Davis)
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Everett resident John Forde crosses the street on a gridlocked Wetmore Ave., as he skis down Wall St. in downtown Everett, Wash., Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007. (Photo: AP/The Herald, Jason Fritz)
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Colin Williams, who was on his way to work out at the gym when he lost control of his car during a surprise snow storm Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007, stands beside his car in Poulsbo, Wash. Williams said it was just raining and suddenly turned to heavy snow. (Photo: AP/The Sun, Larry Steagall)
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Donna Dolge walks through a brief snow flurry as she leaves work at a hospital, where she is a diet technician, in Tacoma, Wash., Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007. (Photo: AP/The News Tribune/Peter Haley)
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Traffic crawls in blizzard conditions along Interstate 680 in Omaha, Neb., Thursday, March 1, 2007. Eastern Nebraskans awoke to swirling winds and heavy, wet snow Thursday morning with the promise of more on Friday. The wind-driven deluge closed schools, forced the cancellation of several events and made a mess out of the morning commute. (Photo: AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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An unidentified motorist tries to dig his car out of a snow drift in Omaha, Neb., Thursday, March 1, 2007. Eastern Nebraskans awoke to swirling winds and heavy, wet snow Thursday morning with the promise of more on Friday. A line of powerful storms battered several states, some with heavy snow and powerful winds, while tornadoes were reported in others. (Photo: AP Photo/Nati Harnik
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An unidentified person walks in a blizzard, Thursday, March 1, 2007, in Omaha, Neb. Eastern Nebraskans awoke to swirling winds and heavy, wet snow Thursday morning with the promise of more to come on Friday. A line of powerful storms continueded across the country after blanketing parts of the Northwest, Sierras and Rockies. (Photo: AP Photo/Nati Harnik)