Spring Snowstorm Wallops Plains
A raging blizzard packing winds up to 60 mph barreled across the Plains on Sunday, closing hundreds of miles of interstate, and stranding tourists and truckers at motels, convenience stores and emergency shelters.
In Nebraska, where up to 10 inches of snow fell, Interstate 80 was closed for about half its length, from the Colorado line to Lexington, some 200 miles.
``We have a huge parking lot and it’s jammed to the hilt with truckers,″ said Deon Evans, a clerk at a gas station and convenience store in Kimball in far western Nebraska.
Shelters for stranded motorists were opened in North Platte and Ogallala, Neb., where winds were gusting to 48 mph.
The blowing snow and near-zero visibility forced police to close about 150 miles of I-70 in eastern Colorado, from Burlington east to Watkins, and another 80 miles of the interstate in Kansas, from the Colorado border east to Oakley.
In northwestern Kansas, St. Francis was blanketed with 10 inches of snow; Goodland got 7 inches with winds up to 60 mph.
``We’ve had crews out trying to clean off the roads, and it just blows right back,″ sheriff’s dispatcher Anna Peptis said in Colby, Kan., where 5 inches of snow fell, creating up to 4-foot drifts.
More than 100 students aboard four buses headed west on I-70 were staying in an armory in Colby, National Guard spokeswoman Joy Moser said. She didn’t know where the students were from.
``People can’t go any further and all the motels are full,″ she said.
Throughout the Plains, northerly wind combined with temperatures in the upper 20s to lower 30s to produce wind chills to 15 below zero.