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Heavy snow closes roads, delays flights in West

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Heavy snow from a winter storm blanketed parts of the West on Friday, stranding motorists throughout New Mexico and delaying holiday travelers trying to fly in and out of Albuquerque and Denver.

The snow and high winds struck the region Thursday and forced dozens of drivers off Interstate 40 after severe conditions made driving in western New Mexico nearly impossible.

"If you don't have (four-wheel drive) and you just have two-wheel … you're either going to spin or stay stuck," stranded motorist Tarquin Wilding told KOAT-TV while in Grants, N.M., on his way to Santa Fe.

Grants and parts of western New Mexico were slammed with more than a foot of snow by Friday morning, the National Weather Service reported. A winter storm warning for the state expired in the afternoon, but meteorologists said the snow wasn't expected to clear up until the weekend.

In Colorado, operations at the Denver International Airport were getting back to normal after a storm that brought about 10 inches of snow. However, airport officials said passengers flying out Friday morning had de-icing delays of about 25 minutes after leaving their gates.

About 100 flights were canceled at the Denver airport on Thursday because of the snow.

In New Mexico, the Department of Transportation closed parts of I-40 around Albuquerque and in eastern New Mexico because of ice and heavy winds. State officials reopened the most of highway Friday afternoon.

Large portions of I-25 from Truth or Consequences to Las Cruces, and I-10 in western New Mexico also were closed, and authorities were urging motorists to seek shelter in hotels.

In El Paso, Texas, on Friday, a few inches of snow covered roads and yards Friday morning. Some sections of I-10 in the western part of the state were reduced to one lane as officers responded to a rash of crashes.

Snowfall was forecast for other West Texas cities and the central portion of the state by early today. Houston, the Dallas-Fort Worth area and South Texas were expected to get rain on Christmas Eve.

Heavy snow closes roads, delays flights in West 12/23/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 23, 2011 10:03pm]
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