Published March 23, 2013
An early spring snowstorm forced the cancellation of more than 100 flights at Denver International Airport and closed several roads Saturday as it moved eastward, dumping more than a foot of snow in some places.
The snow started falling around midnight in northeast Colorado and then moved into northwest Kansas and southwest Nebraska.
Ten to 15 inches of snowfall had fallen by late Saturday morning north of Interstate 70 in northwest Kansas and northeast Colorado, with an additional 3 inches expected in the area, said Jerry Killingsworth, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. The interstate had been shut down Saturday from Denver to Colby, Kan., because of poor visibility. The northbound lanes of Interstate 25 also were closed south of Fort Collins, Colo., because of multiple accidents.
"It's a mess here," said Killingsworth, who is based in Goodland, Kan., which had received 14 inches. "Heavy, wet snow, tree limbs down."
As the system moved eastward, it threatened to inconvenience fans attending the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Kansas City.
Pamela Murray, a meteorologist in Pleasant Hill, Mo., said Kansas City and western Missouri would see light showers and drizzle before the precipitation switched over to snow Saturday afternoon. The heaviest snowfall was expected overnight.
Dan Gavitt, vice president of the NCAA men's basketball championships, said teams and officials already are onsite and that no game delays are anticipated.
"This region routinely has winter snow and has the appropriate equipment and procedures to manage these winter conditions," Gavitt said in written statement. "We encourage fans planning to attend games to pay attention to the weather, use good judgment and follow any directions from local authorities regarding travel and weather."
North Carolina coach Roy Williams was nonplussed.
"It's no distraction, unless the roof goes off, we'll still be able to play and the whole bit like that," Williams said.
Elsewhere, some churches and other organizations were calling off events. Among them, the final game of the Emporia State baseball series with Southwest Baptist was canceled.
Denver International Airport spokesman Heath Montgomery Heath Montgomery said about 106 flights have been canceled, many of which involved commuter jets headed to nearby destinations or to mountain towns.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center said up to a foot of new snow in the mountains could create dangerous avalanche conditions.
Colorado State Patrol troopers also spent part of Saturday working a crash near Johnstown involving a tractor-trailer that burst into flames. An estimated 20 to 50 vehicles, including four tractor-trailers, crashed or slid off the roadway in the area. The patrol said several people were hospitalized, but no fatalities have been reported.
The system will move into Illinois and Indiana overnight and into Sunday.
Meteorologist Dan Smith with the National Weather Service in Lincoln, Ill., said snowstorms aren't uncommon in early spring. The latest the area has seen snow, he said, was April 23, in 1910.
"One good thing about them is it doesn't matter how much you get, it usually doesn't stick around too long because temperatures start to warm up pretty good," he said.
Farther south, tornadoes were possible in Louisiana and Mississippi, while strong winds and low humidity could lead to forest fires and wildfires in parts of New Mexico and west Texas.