20 hurt, dozens of vehicles crash as more snow hits Colorado | PostIndependent.com

20 hurt, dozens of vehicles crash as more snow hits Colorado

Associated Press Writer
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

DENVER (AP) ” Nearly 20 people were hurt as dozens of vehicles crashed on a slippery stretch of Interstate 25 south of Denver Wednesday after a surprisingly potent storm dumped a more than a half-foot of snow on the Front Range.

The State Patrol reported 18 people were taken to hospitals, four with serious injuries and the others with minor to moderate injuries.

About 40 vehicles crashed on I-25 north of Colorado Springs, forcing a five-hour shutdown of the northbound lanes from Monument Hill to Larkspur, the State Patrol said.

“I topped a hill, and you could see some sort of commotion with some vehicles, and I pulled to the left and was making it through, and then I got hit hard from behind,” said Blake Fissel of Raton, N.M.

In his rearview mirror, he saw a car had been pinned against his bumper by a tractor-trailer.

Fissel was taking his family to see a Denver Nuggets basketball game. His month-old Chevy SUV was totaled and he gave up on seeing the game, but he looked on the bright side. “Everybody’s just lucky that we made it out,” he said.

Authorities had to send a school bus to collect stranded motorists and bring them to a hotel in Castle Rock.

The highway reopened around 4 p.m., but travel remained difficult, according to the patrol.

Master Trooper Ron advice to motorists: “Stay away from the area.”

Another accident closed northbound lanes of I-25 south of Colorado Springs, and a crash in slushy conditions closed westbound lanes of Interstate 70 west of Vail.

The National Weather Service had predicted less than 3 inches of snow for Denver, arriving later in the day, but a wind current began wringing moisture out of the air around sunrise and big flakes began piling up quickly, dumping as much as 5 inches by noon.

The revised forecast called for 3 to 7 inches of snow, with the deepest accumulations west and south of Denver.

“It’s getting to be that time of year, it’s almost March,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Koopmeiners. “You expect it this time of year.”

March is typically one of the state’s snowiest months.

A winter storm warning was in effect for the central and southern mountains. A snow advisory was issued for Denver and the eastern foothills.

Eastern Colorado, hammered by a fast-moving storm over the weekend, remained dry Wednesday. Koopmeiners said the spring weather pattern generally spares those areas. And snow continued falling across the mountains.

Steamboat Springs ski resort recorded 5 feet of snow in five days at its 10,000-foot summit, spokesman Mike Lane said. The resort had its second-snowiest February with 97 inches by midday Wednesday, he said.

“There’s a lot of happy, smiling faces up here,” Lane said.

Colorado Ski Country USA said all its member resorts had received some fresh powder in the past 24 hours.

More snow was expected in the mountains Thursday, with a slight chance of snow across the Western Slope. Skies were expected to clear across lower elevations in the eastern half of the state.

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