Highways reopen after winter blast; mountains to get next round
DENVER ” The wind and snow that caused a pile-up of more than 30 cars on Colorado’s eastern plains and closed Interstate 70 and other highways eased out of the state Sunday while the mountains braced for the next blast of winter.
The interstate, closed for about 200 miles in both directions just east of Denver to Kansas, reopened at about 4 a.m. Sunday, said Jarrett Handy of the Colorado Department of Transportation.
“It’s quiet today,” Handy said.
But Colorado 86 from Kiowa to I-70 and U.S. 385 from Burlington to Cheyenne Wells were still closed because of blowing snow.
A new storm was brewing in western Colorado, where a Pacific front was expected to dump up to 8 inches in the central and northern mountains.
In eastern Colorado, Sarah Isenbart, an employee at a truck stop in Burlington, said the wind had died down by Sunday morning and the snow was starting to melt.
“But there are 3-foot drifts in spots and then it’s bare where the wind blew in others,” Isenbart said.
Byron Louis, program manager in the Boulder office of the National Weather Service, said Colorado was clipped by the western edge of the storm that dumped more than a foot of snow as it blew into the Midwest.
In Colorado, the snow amounts ranged from 1 to 7 inches, with the biggest accumulation reported on the Denver area’s southeastern edge. Winds of 50 mph to 70 mph battered the plains.
Jesse Hilbert was among the drivers in a 34-car pile-up on I-70 just east of the Denver area Saturday morning. He said he lost sight of the red tail lights guiding him through near-whiteout conditions and found himself trying to keep from hitting a truck that spun sideways across the lanes.
“I hit the car in front of me, my glasses flew off, I hit the roof and there were cars hitting me,” Hilbert said said. “There was glass everywhere.”
There were no major injuries. A city bus was called in to take people from the accident to a nearby motel as officials worked to clear the wreckage.
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