Saturday, January 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

Wet spring snows hit Rockies, Nebraska

DENVER — Trucks began rolling again across a southern Wyoming highway that had been shuttered for more than 24 hours, and officials in Nebraska made plans to move some primary polling locations Monday after a powerful spring storm that brought up to 3 feet of snow to the Rockies and spawned thunderstorms and tornadoes in the Midwest.

Interstate 80, a major east-west truck route, reopened in Wyoming a day after its closure stranded thousands of travelers and truckers. The interstate quickly became crowded with the trucks that had packed rest areas.

Residents of eastern Nebraska were cleaning up from Sunday's thunderstorms and twisters, which ripped roofs off homes and toppled buildings but caused no major injuries.

Numerous tornadoes were reported across at least six Nebraska counties. Trained spotters identified 12 to 15 likely tornadoes as the storms moved across the state. Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale said Monday that two polling places for today's primary election in Seward County will be relocated because of the damage.

In Colorado, the snow that began falling on Mother's Day caused some power outages as it weighed down newly greening trees.

Among those affected by the outages were travelers at Denver International Airport, where some escalators and elevators temporarily stalled Monday morning. Airport spokeswoman Julie Smith said a backup generator spared the airport any major problems. At least 27 arriving and departing flights were canceled because of the weather, but Smith said there were no major delays. Crews were working overnight to de-ice runways.

Spring is normally the wettest time of year in the Rockies. While snowfall is common in the mountains in May, significant snowfall at lower elevations, such as Denver, in May occurs only every five or 10 years, Colorado state climatologist Nolan Doesken said. Denver got between 4 and 7 inches of typical heavy, wet spring snow.

In the West, high winds at the bottom of the storm sent dust blowing across Arizona and New Mexico, and the Los Angeles area was under "red flag" fire warnings, with authorities saying blazes could quickly spread out of control because of the low humidity, gusty winds and dry conditions.

The storm was the result of a low-pressure system moving east and colliding with a cold air mass from the north. While temperatures were expected to drop below freezing Monday night, springlike weather was expected to return to the Rockies by today.

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