Second winter storm bringing more snow to mountains, Denver |

Second winter storm bringing more snow to mountains, Denver

DENVER ” Snow was falling again in Colorado on Thursday as the second winter storm in two days moved across the state.

The latest storm is expected to pile as much as 20 inches of new snow in areas that have already been hit a series of year end storms.

Snow began falling in the Denver area before dawn and between 4 and 8 inches were expected in the city. It set a record for the snowiest Christmas Day with the nearly 8 inches that fell on Tuesday.

The storm led United Airlines, the largest carrier at Denver International Airport, to cancel 66 flights ” about 16 percent of its daily schedule ” to help prevent planes passing through Denver from being stranded there, spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said. Denver is the airline’s second largest hub so those cancelations could affect travelers in other cities.

The San Juan Mountains in the state’s southwestern corner were expected to get the heaviest accumulations with the central mountains around Aspen and Vail forecast to receive another 6 inches to 12 inches of snow by the end of Thursday.

It’s the latest in a daisy chain of wet Pacific storms that rescued parts of the state from a dry fall.

“We had a very dry November,” said Mike Chamberlain, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. “But this December is turning out to be the wettest on record, and we have not even finished the month.”

The previous record for precipitation in Grand Junction was 1.89 inches of water set in December 1951. As of Wednesday, 1.99 inches of water had already been recorded this December.

Snowpack that is critical for municipal reservoirs is now at or above seasonal averages in many of the river basins in the western part of the state.

Meteorologists said the latest storm boosted Denver’s December snow total to above 15 inches ” about 7 inches above average for the month. Because of the latest storm, Denver deployed an armada of more than 100 light snowplows onto residential streets. The plowing program is a response to December storms in 2006 that left residential streets frozen for weeks.

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