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Denver airport shut for two days after fourth biggest snowfall in city’s history sees 27in of snow

Tens of thousands of people across the U.S. Rockies were left without power on Monday and flights were grounded at Colorado‘s Denver International Airport as the region dug out from one of the most powerful late-winter blizzards in two decades. It led to the cancellation of 950 flights.

The heavy storm, named Xylia, punished parts of Colorado and Wyoming with up to 3 feet of snow and wind gusts of 45 miles per hour over the weekend, stranding motorists on major highways, and knocking down trees and power lines, cutting off the electricity to 16,000 customers.

‘All runways will remain closed until 2pm today – no flights will arrive or depart before that time while crews continue to treat the airfield for ice and snow,’ Denver International Airport said on Twitter. A photo showed heavy equipment clearing snow-covered runways at dawn.

Vehicles are marooned at the curb along Washington Street in Denver after a major storm dumped up to two feet of snow

Vehicles sit mired in a snowdrift after a major storm dumped up to two feet of snow in its wake Monday

Vehicles sit mired in a snowdrift after a major storm dumped up to two feet of snow in its wake Monday

A motorist clears snow off a vehicle after a major storm. The storm has moved out of the intermountain West but forced closures of businesses and schools throughout the region as residents struggle with cleaning up the snow

A motorist clears snow off a vehicle after a major storm. The storm has moved out of the intermountain West but forced closures of businesses and schools throughout the region as residents struggle with cleaning up the snow

A lone pedestrian walks along Washington Street as vehicles sit draped in the snow

A lone pedestrian walks along Washington Street as vehicles sit draped in the snow

Mary Calomino, a native of Orange County, California, who now lives in Denver, clears from around her vehicle

Mary Calomino, a native of Orange County, California, who now lives in Denver, clears from around her vehicle

More than 27 inches of snow had been reported at Denver International Airport as of early Monday, marking Denver's fourth-heaviest snowstorm since records were kept in 1881

More than 27 inches of snow had been reported at Denver International Airport as of early Monday, marking Denver’s fourth-heaviest snowstorm since records were kept in 1881

A view from the control tower shows a snow covered scene at Denver with flights cancelled until 2pm on Monday afternoon

A view from the control tower shows a snow covered scene at Denver with flights cancelled until 2pm on Monday afternoon 

Crews had to treat the airfield for ice and snow in order for it to be made safe for aircraft to take off and land

Crews had to treat the airfield for ice and snow in order for it to be made safe for aircraft to take off and land 

Snow was falling during the first part of Monday with the majority of the storm having moved further east towards the Plains

Snow was falling during the first part of Monday with the majority of the storm having moved further east towards the Plains

The low pressure system was forecast to move Colorado and over towards the Great Plains with a mix of snow and rain

The low pressure system was forecast to move Colorado and over towards the Great Plains with a mix of snow and rain

Reports suggest more than 30 inches of snow fell in the Cheyenne, Wyoming area - just over two-and-a-half feet

Reports suggest more than 30 inches of snow fell in the Cheyenne, Wyoming area – just over two-and-a-half feet 

A National Weather Service report details a rough estimate of snowfall based off received storm reports. The high total was 48.5" near Buckhorn Mountain in Larimer County in the state of Colorado

A National Weather Service report details a rough estimate of snowfall based off received storm reports. The high total was 48.5″ near Buckhorn Mountain in Larimer County in the state of Colorado

‘If you’re scheduled to fly into or out of DEN today, check your flight status with your airline,’ the nation’s fifth-busiest airport said. Around 2 feet of snow fell at the airport over the weekend.

Airport staff gave blankets and water to the roughly 500 passengers that were left stranded at the airport overnight, the Denver Post reported. At one terminal, employees of a McDonald’s restaurant passed out free food, the paper said.

State government offices in Denver and surrounding suburban counties were to remain closed on Monday.

There was still plenty of digging out to do. Denver’s airport runways were closed just before noon on Sunday due to blowing snow and poor visibilities and some stranded passengers spent the night at the airport. 

In Aspen Park, 25 miles south west of Denver, 32.9 inches of snow was recorded by Sunday night – almost three feet. 

In Cheyenne, Wyoming, about 26 inches of snow had fallen by noon, the National Weather Service reported, setting a new two-day record for the city, breaking the previous record, set in 1979.

Airlines ceased operations at Denver Airport on Sunday afternoon with even roads to the airport blocked with accidents

Airlines ceased operations at Denver Airport on Sunday afternoon with even roads to the airport blocked with accidents

Denver Airport  received 27.1 inches of snow. Once the snow had stopped, crews worked hard to clear the runways on Monday

Denver Airport  received 27.1 inches of snow. Once the snow had stopped, crews worked hard to clear the runways on Monday

At one stage more than 200 snow plows were out on the tarmac clearing away the snow and ice that had fallen

At one stage more than 200 snow plows were out on the tarmac clearing away the snow and ice that had fallen 

In clearing away the runways, a wall of snow began building up at the side as plows worked hard to clear the tarmac

In clearing away the runways, a wall of snow began building up at the side as plows worked hard to clear the tarmac

By Monday afternoon, four runways were open at Denver with flights arriving and departing

By Monday afternoon, four runways were open at Denver with flights arriving and departing 

Four of the airport's runways were completely free of snow and ice by Monday afternoon ready for planes to land once again

Four of the airport’s runways were completely free of snow and ice by Monday afternoon ready for planes to land once again

With the sun shining on Monday, over 200 plows were working to clear the snow and ice but the runways were not scheduled to reopen until 2pm Mountain Daylight Time, the airport said. 

Interstates 70 and 25, two of Colorado’s main arteries across the state, were shut down on Sunday afternoon, along with Interstate 80, which runs east-west across Wyoming. 

In Wyoming, the National Weather Service warned that driving would remain dangerous for the next several days there because of slick and snow covered roads. Motorists were advised to stay off them.

More snow was expected across the Rockies on Monday evening and into Tuesday, although National Weather Service forecasters expected it to be considerably lighter and wreak less havoc.

The weather system bringing blizzards to the Rockies was also responsible for severe thunderstorms in Texas over the weekend, including reports of multiple tornadoes on Saturday in the Texas Panhandle.

The storm system, fueled by moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, had moved out of the region and into northeastern Nebraska by Monday, said Evan Direnzo, a meteorologist for the weather service in Boulder.

Winter Storm Xylia dumped nearly three feet of snow across Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska

Winter Storm Xylia dumped nearly three feet of snow across Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska 

After the storm had passed, the white stuff made for a pretty wintry scene with a back deck covered in snow

After the storm had passed, the white stuff made for a pretty wintry scene with a back deck covered in snow

Members of the National Weather Service in Boulder, Colorado were seen out measuring the snowfall

Members of the National Weather Service in Boulder, Colorado were seen out measuring the snowfall 

Mail boxes were seen to be completely buried by the sheer amount of snow that fell on Sunday into Monday. Office picnic tables are also in deep

Mail boxes were seen to be completely buried by the sheer amount of snow that fell on Sunday into Monday. Office picnic tables are also in deep

A sports-utility vehicle climbs Pearl Street in Denver as people head to their cars to see if they can be dug out and moved

A sports-utility vehicle climbs Pearl Street in Denver as people head to their cars to see if they can be dug out and moved

A lone shoveler works to clear a walkway in Denver. One of many residents working to shift the snow somewhere

A lone shoveler works to clear a walkway in Denver. One of many residents working to shift the snow somewhere

‘It´s definitely behind us,’ he said of the storm’s snow and wind. 

Some trucks and other travelers were stranded in eastern Wyoming where several major roads remained closed Monday, including routes in and out of the cities of Cheyenne and Casper. Interstate 70 across much of the eastern half of Colorado was also closed.

The U.S. Postal Service said many post offices would be closed in Colorado on Monday and mail delivery in many locations would be severely curtailed or suspended.

Federal officials shut down vaccine shipments to the region as the storm neared so the vials packed in dry ice wouldn´t spoil during mail delays, Wyoming Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti said.

‘We think they´ll be at least a couple days,’ Deti said. ‘Nobody is quite sure when things will be cleared and reopened.’

Vehicles sit covered in snow along Pennsylvania Street in Denver. The storm forced closures of businesses and schools throughout the region

Vehicles sit covered in snow along Pennsylvania Street in Denver. The storm forced closures of businesses and schools throughout the region

A pedestrian walks along 7th Avenue in Denver on Monday under sunny skies with the storm having moved eastwards

A pedestrian walks along 7th Avenue in Denver on Monday under sunny skies with the storm having moved eastwards

Drone footage from the treetops of Denver depict a wintry scene as the city recovers from it fourth heaviest snowfall ever

Drone footage from the treetops of Denver depict a wintry scene as the city recovers from it fourth heaviest snowfall ever

With the exception of a couple days that are forecast to get into the 50s this week, the area will be seeing cool days and chilly nights in the near future ¿ meaning that most of the snow isn¿t going anywhere soon

With the exception of a couple days that are forecast to get into the 50s this week, the area will be seeing cool days and chilly nights in the near future — meaning that most of the snow isn’t going anywhere soon

An outdoor dining set sits outside a home after a major storm dumped up to two feet of snow

An outdoor dining set sits outside a home after a major storm dumped up to two feet of snow

Cars are blanketed by the snow which came down for most of Sunday with almost three feet falling

Cars are blanketed by the snow which came down for most of Sunday with almost three feet falling

The storm also was keeping many people from getting to vaccine locations, Deti noted.

Classes were canceled Monday at schools around the Denver area and in Cheyenne and Casper. Classes were also called off at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and the University of Colorado´s main campus in Boulder. State government offices in the Denver area and southeastern Wyoming were also closed.

In the Denver metro area, all bus routes and light rail lines were suspended for snow removal with the exception of a line running from downtown´s Union Station to the airport, which ran on a reduced schedule.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center warned of ‘dangerous’ avalanche conditions in many areas of the state, including the mountains along the Front Range. It urged backcountry users to avoid areas of new snowfall prone to wind drifts that could help trigger large snowslides on what has been a particularly unstable snowpack this season. Colorado has reported 11 avalanche deaths this winter.

The blizzard was a double-edged sword for ranchers – bringing moisture that will green up spring pastures after months of dry weather but hitting as cows give birth to calves or care for their newborns, said Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.

‘I certainly have some concerns about those who are in calving and don´t have indoor shelter to put those cows in,’ Magagna said Monday. ‘I´m sure they´re all out there doing the best they can to save calves right now.’

Forecasters accurately predicted the storm several days in advance, giving ranchers plenty of time to prepare, he said.

The scene in Boulder, Colorado sees snow covered fir trees with highway still slick

The scene in Boulder, Colorado sees snow covered fir trees with highway still slick

A windy mountain road passing between two snow covered hillsides in Boulder, Colorado

A windy mountain road passing between two snow covered hillsides in Boulder, Colorado 

In Boulder, heavy snow knocked down tree limbs and power lines and left cars stranded across the city

In Boulder, heavy snow knocked down tree limbs and power lines and left cars stranded across the city

Motorists clears snow from around their vehicles parked along Second Avenue in Denver

Motorists clears snow from around their vehicles parked along Second Avenue in Denver

Nine Lillehei clears snow off her vehicle after a powerful late winter storm

Nine Lillehei clears snow off her vehicle after a powerful late winter storm

Chairs and tables for outdoor seating at a restaurant are covered with snow

Chairs and tables for outdoor seating at a restaurant are covered with snow


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