DENVER – A winter storm with snow and wind gusts up to 75 mph blew across the Colorado Rockies on Thursday, knocking down trees, causing accidents and shutting down roads including heavily traveled Interstate 70 west of Denver.
Drivers slowed to a crawl on icy, snow-packed roads in the mountains an hour outside Denver. Some vehicles slid off the highway, said Eric Escudero of the Colorado Department of Transportation. Passes were closed at various times because of weather and accidents.
Linda Rohlinger said she left Boulder for Vail on Thursday morning but traveled only 60 miles in three hours. She and her husband stopped in Georgetown, about 35 miles west of Denver, for lunch after inching through 5-mph traffic for miles.
At the Eisenhower Tunnel, where I-70 dives under the Continental Divide, traffic was stopped each hour to let vehicles carrying hazardous materials pass through.
At the nearby Happy Cooker, server Stephanie Mellon said the restaurant was packed.
"Everybody had the same story. They were going skiing, the roads were terrible, people were sliding all around," she said.
Snow and blowing snow advisories were issued for much of the northern and central mountains, with up to 12 inches expected at higher elevations and gusts as high as 40 mph. South of Denver, a wind gust of 75 mph was reported.