DENVER (AP) — A storm that has dumped more than a foot of snow in the Rocky Mountains was causing problems for travelers as it spread across the Plains on Wednesday.
The main east-west route across Colorado, Interstate 70, closed for several hours from east of Denver to the Kansas line because of poor visibility due to blowing snow. Eastbound lanes remained closed Wednesday night. Smaller highways were also closed for hours in eastern Colorado.
Drivers in Iowa and Nebraska are being warned to be careful or stop driving altogether starting Wednesday evening as the Plains gets its first major winter storm of the season.
Light snow is also expected at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Thursday and strong winds could make visibility poor. That, combined with low clouds, could cause delays at the nation's second-busiest airport. National Weather Service forecaster Jamie Enderlen said.
Iowa officials advised drivers to avoid most roads from Wednesday night through noon Thursday, but native Laurie Harry, a manager at a Casey's General Store, expects to drive to work Thursday morning.
"If I need to get into work, I'll be here," she said. "We've had snow before. Iowans know what to expect. We're used to it."
Conditions improved in Denver by midday Wednesday. At the height of the storm, Denver's airport, the nation's fifth-busiest, reported delays averaging 30 minutes because of snow and ice, but operations have since returned to normal.
Delta and United Airlines reacted by announcing plans to allow many affected travelers across the nation to change schedules without incurring fees.
The snow is a gift for ski resorts in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah ahead of the busy holiday week. The weather might also tempt backcountry skiers but prompted avalanche warnings in Colorado and Utah.
Colorado officials near Vail, about 90 miles west of Denver, planned to trigger some small snow slides in order to remove larger threats.
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