Spring Blizzard Blasts Colorado

Travelers spent the night sleeping in airport terminals and hunkered down at truck stops and churches after a howling blizzard grounded airplanes, shut down highways and snapped tree limbs.

Almost a foot of snow fell in Denver on Sunday and 2 feet fell in Greenland, about 20 miles north of Colorado Springs, the National Weather Service (search) said. Snow was tapering off Monday morning in some areas but still fell across the eastern part of the state and adjoining areas of Kansas and the Nebraska Panhandle.

"I'm looking out my window and I still can't see the highway," said Courtney Hill, an employee at the Travel Centers of America truck stop in Limon, 90 miles east of Denver. "It doesn't look like it's snowing, it's just the wind. We've had terrible wind."

There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths, but blackouts affected thousands of people. School was closed for thousands of children.

Most airlines delayed or canceled flights Sunday, including United Airlines, the biggest carrier at Denver International Airport (search), officials said. Flights also were canceled out of Colorado Springs.

Alister Cleland, of Durham, England, was among hundreds stuck at Denver's airport. His family was trying to get home after spending a week at the Beaver Creek ski resort near Vail.

"We liked the snow there, but there's too much here," Cleland said as his 7-year-old twin boys played video games.

Other travelers watched personal DVD players or stretched out on couches and the floor, using coats for pillows.

Interstate 70 remained closed Monday morning between suburban Aurora and Colby, Kan., a stretch of about 200 miles, according to police and highway officials in both states.

Sherman County, Kan., sheriff's Deputy Burton Pianalto said in Goodland that he thought the primary reason for the closing was that motels had no more room to shelter stranded travelers.

"But the highway did get pretty slick, and the highway crews couldn't keep up," Pianalto said. "We had lightning, sleet, hail and snow. Just weird weather."

About 11,000 customers lost power at the peak of the snowstorm, but service was restored to most customers, according to Xcel Energy (search).

A similar storm in March 2003 paralyzed much of the greater Denver area with 3 feet of wet, slushy snow that destroyed trees and damaged homes.

In Limon, the United Methodist Church opened its doors to stranded travelers including Madeline Rebol, 16, and her father, Dave, who were driving from Colorado Springs to their home in Fort Morgan but made only 70 miles in nearly five hours Sunday.

"You could barely see in front of you," Madeline Rebol said.

About 300 truck drivers waited out the storm overnight at the TA Truck Stop in suburban Wheat Ridge, said general manager Richard Lemm.