Days of Near-Blizzard Conditions Forecast for Colorado, Wyoming

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Forecasters are predicting two days of heavy snow and near-blizzard conditions for Cheyenne and the northern Colorado Front Range.

The storm moved into the region Tuesday night, and the National Weather Service said 12 to 18 inches of snow were possible in the Cheyenne area through Thursday.

Winds up to 30 mph are expected to cause significant drifting and near-blizzard conditions on the plains.

In Colorado, 8 to 14 inches is forecast for the Front Range and 5 to 10 inches in the Denver area. Up to 2 feet is possible in the northern Colorado Front Range foothills and the Laramie Range in southeast Wyoming.

Larimer County in northern Colorado warned people planning to get the flu vaccine Wednesday to make sure heavy snow hadn't canceled the clinic.

In the mountains near Aspen, Independence Pass was closed Tuesday, with Colorado transportation officials saying it could stay shut for the season.

United Airlines and Frontier Airlines, which both have hubs in Denver, were relaxing some fees for changing travel plans in light of the storm forecast.

Winter storm warnings were posted for southeast Wyoming, most of Colorado and parts of Nebraska and Utah.

Cheyenne already has had a snowy October, with 14 inches so far. The average for the month is 3 inches.

"It's been a rare October," said Tim Trudel, a National Weather Service forecaster in Cheyenne.

A storm Oct. 9-10 brought 8 inches to Cheyenne, closing Interstates 80 and 25. The Wyoming Department of Transportation is urging its plow drivers to rest up ahead of this storm, agency spokesman Bruce Burrows said.

"The skier in me is saying, `Yeah, bring it on,"' Burrows said. "But it is challenging for our folks."

Whether highways remain open depends a lot on the wind. In Wyoming, large storms often kick up strong winds that cause constant drifting over roads.

"A lot of snow we can deal with pretty well. If the wind comes up, it makes it very difficult to keep up, even with our best technology and our best efforts," Burrows said.