(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Travelers walk past the United check-in area after a snowstorm at Denver International Airport
By Brendan O’Brien
(Reuters) – A powerful snowstorm is on track to strike the U.S. Rockies and High Plains over the next four days, bringing heavy snow and strong winds that could make travel difficult or impossible, forecasters said.
The massive storm is expected to dump up to two feet (61 cm) of snow and winds of up to 45 miles per hour (72 kilometers per hour) to parts of northern Colorado, southeast Wyoming and western Nebraska from late Thursday through late Sunday, the National Weather Service said.
“It’s will be a impactful, strong storm, but I wouldn’t call it a blizzard right now,” said Colorado-based NWS meteorologist Lisa Kriederman. “This is a very wet system. We could experience some tree damage and power outages so people need to be prepared.”
In a tweet, the Colorado Department of Transportation strongly urged motorists to avoid traveling during the storm as snowfall totals could reach four feet in higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains.
The storm is also expected to bring cold rain and snow to parts of the eastern Great Plains, forecasters said.
“The wet snow and cold rain could be hazardous to young livestock,” the NWS service said in advisories for parts of Nebraska.
The storm could rival the spring blizzard of 2003, when seven feet of snow fell on parts of the area, stranding skiers, shutting down highways and closing the Denver International Airport, leaving thousands of travelers stuck for days.
Fort Collins, Colorado is forecast to get 30 inches of snow over the weekend, a total that it has seen only once before during the 2003 blizzard, according to the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University.
“Shaping up to be a historic snowstorm,” the center said in a tweet.
Major snowstorm could slam U.S. Rockies and High Plains
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